Saawariya – A timeless story of unrequited love

Very few movies have poetic feel to them. The 2007 movie ‘Saawariya’ was one of it.

Based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story – White Nights, Saawariya is a tale of a recluse stranger in search of love and a girl in wait of love. When their paths cross, love is about to blossom. Unrequited love stories have their own beauty and the beauty lies in its sorrow, separation, tears and melancholy. Be it the ‘The English Patient’ or ‘Lootera’, the theme of tragic love is common in them. The premise of this story is set in a fairy tale like city where there is no hurry, chaos or hatred. In this fairy tale like city arrives Ranbir Raj an aspiring but jobless musician who is in search of a rental accommodation. He befriends a prostitute named Gulabji. Unlike others, Ranbir treats Gulabji like a friend. On Gulabji’s reference, Ranbir manages to get an accommodation at a house of an old lady named Lilian.

While roaming on a dark night, Ranbir stumbles upon a beautiful girl on a bridge waiting for someone. A damsel in distress, the girl on the bridge is chased by a mad woman. The girl on the bridge seeks refuge and help from Ranbir. Ranbir rescues her from the mad woman. Ranbir and the girl strike a bond on the lonely night. Here he discovers that her name is Sakina and she stays with her blind grandmother. Ranbir is smitten by her natural beauty and innocence. Love blossoms in heart of Ranbir.

Though Ranbir and Sakina keep meeting like love birds, there is only a bonding of friendship between them. Ranbir tries to confess his love to Sakina but discovers later that she is in love with someone else and is waiting for his return so that they can get married. Hearing this, Ranbir decides to part away from Sakina.
Sakina has no clue about her lover’s return. Ranbir promises to search for her lover.Despite several attempts, Ranbir is unable to trace the whereabouts of Sakina’s lover. In this midst, Ranbir has a faint hope that Sakina may reciprocate to his love.
When Sakina realizes that there is no point of return of her love, she decides to reciprocate to Ranbir’s emotions. By a strange unfortunate irony, Sakina’s lover returns and now Sakina’s emotions are torn between Ranbir and her long lost love.
Realizing her dilemma, Ranbir big heartedly bids farewell to Sakina. Sakina connects with her love. In these four nights of friendship, Ranbir’s world changes when he meets Sakina. Now he is all alone. His days and nights are lonely again.
The hopeless, aspiring loner is back to his melancholy

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story ‘White nights’ is timeless in it. Director Sanjay Bhansali picked this short story as subject for the musical love story he was about to direct. Embellished with magnificent sets, stunning art direction, melodious soundtrack and a soulful performance, Saawariya was a critical let down. This visually engaging tragic love story is times ahead in terms of storytelling. Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor made their debut with this timeless love story. Sonam’s portrayal as Sakina is unforgettable and there is a nostalgic feel to her innocent face. Ranbir’s role as the melancholic musician will win your heart. The heart breaking moment in the movie is the climax where Ranbir lets Sakina go with her long lost lover. It is difficult for a man to see his love in someone’s arms. Saawariya is a memorable movie that is not formulaic filled with typical and clichéd Bollywood drama. What appealed to me in this movie was the larger than life performance of veteran actress Zohra Sehgal as the old lady Lilian. This was one of the last soulful performances of Zohra Sehgal.

This article is not a review, but reminiscence of a heartbreaking love story faded away from the minds of people. Motion pictures like Saawariya are made only once. The word ‘Saawariya’ is derived from the word ‘Saanwra’ which means dark complexioned. Lord Krishna is sometimes addressed as Saawariya. Even Radha had to wait long for return of her lord Krishna. Sometimes one lifetime is not enough to experience the joy of love. Saawariya is about waiting in love for several lifetimes.

For those who have penchant for tragic romances, Saawariya is a visual engaging experience that will stay in their minds for eternity.


The sword of Tanaji Malusare

‘Every man dies, but not everyone really lives’ – lines from movie ‘Braveheart’

Our today’s generation mind is fascinated with fictional characters from Game of thrones and Bahubali. Kids know about Spartan King Leonidas but have hardly heard about the unsung Maratha warriors like Tanaji Malusare whose ballads are still sung in India. Should we blame the history textbooks or the growing influence of Western culture on our kids? A lot is written, sung on the great warrior Tanaji Malusare but his courageous feat is slowly fading from the minds of younger generations. It is high time that we continue to pass on the stories of our Indian history to our coming generation and this article on Tanaji is a small effort to remember his courageous feats.

The statue of the great maratha warrior – Tanaji

The ‘Povadas’ (Marathi ballads) sung by the folk singers inspired the young men of Maratha Empire to fight for Swarajya and resist the barbaric Mughal empire. Among the trusted comrades, Tanaji Malusare was the most trusted military leader who taken oath along with Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj to fight for Swarajya in Raireshwar temple (Raireshwar is Lord Shiva’s name). Shivaji and Tanaji were close friends during their childhood times and often they planned strategies to capture the forts. With coming times, Shivaji collected a band of brave Mawlas and declared a war on the Mughal Empire. With the help of Tanaji, Baji Prabhu and countless Maratha warriors, Shivaji won many battles. Though Tanaji had fought many battles for Swarajya, it was the battle for Sinhagad that was going to make him immortal in pages of history.

For Tanaji, his call of duty mattered more than his personal things. Such was his devotion to his nation that he left his son’s wedding preparations in middle to march for the battle of Sinhagad. He cared for Swarajya more than his son’s wedding.

By tying the rope on his pet lizard Yashwanti, Tanaji and his troops scaled the fort in the dark of night. The Sinhagad fort was under the control of corrupt Mughal officials Jai Singh and Udaybhan. Tanaji and his handful of men gave a tough fight to the mighty and large numbered enemy soldiers. Tanaji’s sword struck like a thunder bolt, claiming the lives of several enemy soldiers. The battle was bloodied, fierce and fatiguing for Tanaji and his band of brave soldiers. Though Tanaji gave a tough fight to Udaybhan, he was fatally wounded by the sword attacks. The fierce battle marked the end of Tanaji. In the sword fights, the cruel Udaybhan was also killed by Tanaji. Tanaji breathed his last, mortally wounded. He died, but kept his promise of recapturing the Sinhagad fort from the enemies.

Shivaji Maharaj was deeply saddened hearing about the death of his friend Tanaji. He had not only lost a great soldier, but also a close friend.

‘Gad ala pan sinh gela’ were the words uttered by Shivaji Maharaj in remembrance of his brave martyr friend Tanaji. The fort was captured but the lion was dead.

Tanaji’s ballads are still sung today by folk singers in his honor, remembering his courageous deeds and his ultimate sacrifice for Swarajya.

The sad irony about school history textbooks is that it doesn’t describe about the courageous heroes like Tanaji in detail. Kids do study history but only to score marks in exams. I had read about Tanaji Malusare in detail in Amar Chitra Katha books. It had a given a detailed history on Tanaji through illustrations.

Biopic on Tanaji – Viacom 18 is making a biopic on Tanaji Malusare which will have actor Ajay Devgan playing the title role of the great Maratha warrior. The movie is scheduled to release in 2019. I am very sad to see that it took so long time to make a biopic on this brave Maratha warrior. Thankfully, the young masses will be able to see Tanaji on the silver screen soon.

Ajay Devgan as Tanaji in 2019’s forthcoming biopic on the maratha warrior

When you can visit Sinhagad, you can see a bust of the great Maratha Warrior at the fort. Tanaji’s valor won’t be forgotten in the pages of history as long as we continue to carry forward his legacy of courage and patriotism.

A town called Dehra – Memories of Ruskin Bond’s Hometown

‘The past is always with us, for it feeds the present’ – Quote from the memoir

‘A town called Dehra’ is reminiscence of a sleepy town called Dehradun where author Ruskin Bond spent his boyhood as well as adolescent days. The characters in this memoir are Ruskin Bond’s relatives, his friends, love interest and the common masses residing in Dehra. From penning the memories of his father & granny to describing the scenic beauty of Dehra, Ruskin Bond has breathed life in the sleepy town called Dehra. What is so special about this book? The pages of this memoir are filled with the rare yester year photos of Ruskin Bond’s family (granny, siblings, friends and his mother). Sadly, there is no photograph of Ruskin Bond’s father in this memoir. In every book of Ruskin, his father has been mentioned in one or other short story. Even in this book, Ruskin reminiscences his long lost father in the first chapter.

As you gaze at these photos, you will feel a personal connect to them. The pre-independent Dehra was different from the present times. Filled with flower gardens, litchi trees, ponds, valleys, Dehra was a town of the ordinary people. Very few books mention about the struggles of common people and Ruskin Bond’s books highlights the pathos of these ordinary masses. His popular short story ‘Garlands on his brow’ depicts the pain of a forgotten wrestler called Hassan. A popular wrestler Hassan succumbs to the charm of a flirtatious Maharani and what follows later is his fading charisma as a wrestler in the arena. Hassan is forgotten, ignored by his admirers and this ignorance claims the life of this unsung wrestler of Dehra. Ruskin Bond has even penned his fondness for cinema halls of Dehra in this memoir. He recounts his best days of watching movies in Odeon theatre at Dehra. Through this memoir, Ruskin Bond takes you on a trip to Dehra where you will see Dilaram Bazaar, the famous market place where Rusty and his friends relished on road side snacks. If you have read ‘The room on the roof’ and ‘Rusty Runs away’, you will be familiar with Somi and Daljit. In this memoir, Ruskin Bond has personally shared the actual photos of his friends. What captivated me to read this book was the short story ‘The last Tonga ride’ which recounts Ruskin’s fondness for Tonga rides and his friendly bonding with the Tonga driver Bansi lal.

A single reading session is not enough to savor on the nostalgic treat offered by Ruskin Bond in this memoir. This memoir is especially been written for those people who have fondness for past. If you are away from your hometown, you are sure to break in tears of joy and sadness when you read the chapters. When I was reading the chapters in this memoir, it reminded me of own hometown, my uncle’s little room, cousin brothers who pampered me with their unconditional affection. Sadly the hometown is more of a ghost town as all my relatives have departed. What remained in my mind are the sweet memories that keep playing like a re-run of a TV serial.

No matter how far and high a bird may fly, it has to return to its nest. Same is about us. We can never forget our roots, upbringing, heritage and our home. ‘A town called Dehra’ is a classic memoir that one will keep relishing with years to come.

Visiting cinema halls – The best days of my life

‘The past is always with us, for it feeds the present’ – Ruskin Bond

For me, exiting from the cinema hall is the most emotional moment of my life. As the end credits roll, movie audiences are back to their life’s troubles. In his memoir ‘A town called Dehra’ Ruskin Bond had expressed his love for cinemas in his hometown Dehra. His visits to the yester year cinema hall – Odeon in Dehra were the best times of his youthful days. By coincidence, there was also a talkies called Odeon in Ghatkopar, Mumbai. My childhood was blessed with watching some memorable movies in movie theatres. Mard, Mr.India, Dance Dance, Andha Kanoon were some of the blockbusters I enjoyed with my family. School boys used to bunk their classes to watch the 90’s blockbusters like Baazigar, Darr, Raju Ban Gaya gentleman etc. Since I had a video player, I relished on movies from the comforts of my home. Like my classmates, I couldn’t never muster up the courage to bunk the classes and watch movies. In later years, I did catch up on some blockbusters at Malhar Cinema in Thane. I recollect watching Salman’s movie – Biwi No 1 at Malhar by purchasing tickets in black for 100 bucks. Such was my madness for movies. Though I stopped visiting Malhar cinema, I did enjoy some of the best and worst movies. Anand Cinema in Thane East is one destination which has a nostalgic feel to it. The Kopri area in Thane East is a sleepy town which is blessed with only one single screen theatre – Anand cinema. I enjoyed a forgettable romantic flick – Sirf Tum and Salman’s comedy movie – God Tussi great ho at Anand. Cinema halls have that ambience to make you fall in love with movies. Satellite channels and Movie apps can never give you the enjoyment that you relish in movie theatres.

Due to arrival of Multiplexes, several single cinema halls faced loss in their businesses and got closed down. I watched only one movie – The legend of Bhagat Singh in Aradhna cinema hall, Thane. Sadly, the cinema hall had to shut down in 2002. Among all the multiplexes, PVR cinemas are my favorite destination to catch up on movies. I remember watching ‘Jaane tu ya Jaane na’ for the first time at PVR cinemas, Mulund. I had specially taken a leave from office to watch this youthful flick. The big, wide screen, recliner seats, exclusive trailers make PVR cinemas a desirable destination. I lost the count of movies I enjoyed at PVR. Big Cinemas is one more favorite theatre which I occasionally visit. Bachna Ae Haseeno was one movie I immensely enjoyed at Big Cinemas. It had the typical Yashraj stuff – Foreign locations, romantic tracks, foot tapping music and beautiful chicks. I fell head over heels in love with Minissha lamba, one of the lead actresses in the movie. She played a typical Punbabi girl next door whom Ranbir Kapoor woos and dumps her. I still regret missing Rab Ne Bana di Jodi at cinema halls. I fell in love with Anushka Sharma in Rab Ne Bana di Jodi. Wish I could become like Raj and woo her. The movies are larger than life as their characters.

Off lately, I watched Anushka Sharma’s movie – Phillauri at PVR cinemas. Every movie brings lots of memories with it. Whether it is watching Dostana at Malhar cinemas or Quantum of Solace at PVR, each movie is stuffed with timeless entertainment. If you watch a good movie, watch it only at a cinema hall. Nothing beats the excitement of a silver screen better than a movie theatre. I consider that days of watching movies at cinema halls as the best days of my life.

Let me know about your favorite cinema hall and the movies you enjoyed in a single screen or multiplex theatre.