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.

Mafia Queens of Mumbai – A glimpse at the ferocious side of femininity

It is a misconception that women are inferior in terms of strength, courage and spirit. Dacoit Phoolan Devi broke that norms by rebelling against the tyrant and corrupt upper classes of rural India. Mata Hari became the first woman spy to dig out the undisclosed secrets until she was betrayed and ultimately shot to death. S.Hussain. Zaidi’s crime thriller – Mafia Queens of Mumbai is a fiery glimpse at the ferocious side of femininity. From dark lanes of Dongri to red light areas of Kamapathipura, the female protagonists of this crime thriller hail from various walks of life. Some enter the world of crime due to adverse circumstances while some rule the crime world to usurp the power and prove their clout among the masses.

These women from book – Mafia Queens of Mumbai are lethal, cunning, manipulative, seductive and sometimes murderess too. Bollywood has always taken inspiration from real life gangsters’ story to replicate them on silver screen. Movies like ‘Parinda’, ‘Satya’, ‘Company’, ‘Once upon a time in Mumbai’ and the recently released ‘Raees’ is a tribute to the yesteryear Godfathers. The female Godmothers are yet to appear on silver screen soon. Extensively researched by Author S.Hussain Zaidi and co-author Jane Borges, this book throws a light on lives of Jenabai, Gangubai, Mahalaxmi Papamani and Ashraf alias Sapna Didi.

What intrigued me to pick this book was the thrilling story of Jenabai Daruwali, a freedom fighter turned bootlegger. Her thrilling transformation to a bootlegger, police informer and a Godmother was really worth a game changer. After the partition, her husband abandoned not only her, but also left her homeless with a daughter and son to look after. Even in these adverse circumstances, Jenabai raised her kids on her own and became a bootlegger. Her bootlegging business gave her a new name – Jenabai Daruwali. She is known to have been mentor to some of the budding youngsters of Dongri who went on to create a new history in world of crime. She also acted as a mediator to bring peace between two warring gangs. Jenabai expired in late 90’s. In the world of crime, she was the first woman to become Godmother. Her life was a source of inspiration for a satellite channel to come up with a TV series named – Amma. The older part was played by veteran actress Shabana Azmi while the younger part was played by model-actress Urvashi Sharma.

The most thrilling story that stood out in this anthology of crime stories was an untold tragedy of an innocent woman named Ashraf who turned avenger to take a might on a powerful Mafia empire. A victim of conspiracies, her husband, a local gangster was shot down by Mumbai cops. It was later revealed that it was a big conspiracy hatched by big bosses in off shore countries. To avenge this personal tragedy, Ashraf sought the help of a local gangster named Ustara and became an avenging vigilante named ‘Sapna Didi’ against the Mafia. Though she succeeded to sabotage the Mafia to a smaller extent, she herself became a victim in the end. A betrayal by one of her men tipped off the bosses to kill her off. Ashraf was brutally stabbed to death by unknown hit-men. Her only fault was that she dared to take on a mighty mafia empire. This story of Ashraf alias Sapna deserves to be made into a crime biopic someday. Sadly Ashraf alias Sapna Didi’s vengeance story is lost somewhere in dusty pages of anonymity.

Even the story of Gangubai Kathiawad, the matriarch of brothel is worth reading. How the innocent girl was cheated by her husband and forced into prostitution is shocking. The innocent girl later became a Godmother to several girls in red light area and came to be known as ‘Gangubai Kathiawad’. The pages in this crime thriller also reveal the story of Mahalaxmi Papamani, Monica Bedi, Asha Gawli, Neeta Naik, Rubina Sayyed, Tarrannum and Archana Sharma.

Author Zaidi and Jane Borges have taken pain staking effort to research the background of these notorious mafia queens. No one can ever imagine that even women can dare to rule a crime empire. The foreword by Director Vishal Bharadwaj on this book intensifies the interest to turn the pages. It is a highly recommended book for the readers who love crime genre. If Mumbai is a business hub for corporate honchos, it is also a dark lane where these unknown Mafia queens rule from their secret dens.