Friday, December 23, 2011

From a Community dinner to a 'community' film!

In NID, after every big festival there is a community dinner organised, where the dishes of that particular region are served to the whole community. It was the Onam Community dinner in 2010.
I happened to sit next to one of my seniors, Sanaa. The conversation started with pleasantries and moved on to specifics,
"So what is your next project?" asked Sanaa.
I replied, "I am looking for subjects for my documentary. I am confused."
Sanaa thought about for a moment and asked "Have you heard about this 'criminal' theatre group which is based here in Gujarat?"
That sounded very new: ' a criminal theatre group'. The subject sounded very interesting because I knew very little about it. This conversation at the community dinner started the process...
I looked it up on the internet...I came in contact with people working on this issue. Then I visited the community in Chharanagar. The tribe is called 'Chhara' and the group is called 'Budhan theatre. I made good friends there.
 For the next 6 months I kept visiting them on weekends and 'Budhan Diaries' was the final product which came out. It's a 24-minute documentary which I am sharing with this post.

So, from that one random conversation at the community dinner at NID, it went on to become a community's film! Thanks Sanaa :)

('Budhan Diaries' has been screened at the Jeevika Documentary film festival-2011, Delhi, Cine Fresco International Film Festival-2011, Kolkata, Madurai International Film festival-2011, Madurai, Infocus Film fest-2012, Loyola Hyderabad and Mumbai International Film Festival-2012. The film also got picked by the video channel 'India Docs' on youtube. It won the 'Special Jury mention ' Award at Jeevika.)
Watch it...

वो जुगनू

“न होती उलझनें, तो न मिलते हमें सच के और पहलू,

न होती अंधेरी रात, तो न दिखते हमें वो टिमटिमाते जुगनू।“

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What’s Up!

It’s nice to get back to this space, sharing things with a
space which is yours, yet very public. I am enjoying the Delhi winters, which I
missed for the last two years. The winter is just beginning to get painfully
cold, but still it’s not what it used to be in the December of may be 3 years
ago. Just hoping that the temperatures continue to fall down!

My schedule these days somehow reminds me of school. I leave
for office at 8:45 and come back home by 7 pm. When I drive to the office in
the morning, through the fog, it is a great feeling to see other bikers leaving
for their offices, battling the fog with me; everyone wrapped around with
jackets, mufflers and what not. It somehow looks like a uniform: Jackets, hand
gloves, mufflers, hand gloves and backpacks carrying laptops. Then I reach the warm
office. It is energetic to work in the first session, with energy levels
dipping considerably till lunch. Lunch is a nice time to leave work and have
food. Food or a meal in particular, has never been so exciting for me ever!

The best time of the day is the time I come back home after
office. This is where it is quite different from school days. No homework, no
exams, no assignments…it is time just for ME. Two things I have been doing a
lot are writing and reading. There is so much I spend on my desk, that it is very
satisfying when I get up for dinner.

Talking about books, I had always been interested in buying
books from cart-book stalls in local markets and similar spaces. But now when I
have started reading those books, I realise how fortunate I have been to get
such good books, just as a matter of chance.

I bought ‘Miracle in the Andes’ for 50 rupees at a sale in
CG Road, Ahmedabad. I had no idea about this incident. In 1972, the airplane ‘Fairchild’
crashed into the Andes. It was carrying a Uruguayan rugby team to Chile. It is
a story about how the survivors of the crash survived for 70 days with no
external support at all. For food, they ate the flesh of the people who died in
the same accident: their friends and relatives. The human struggle to survive
is quite strange at times. There are feelings and emotions with which we bond
with each other, but at the end we are all just bodies interacting with each
other. The author, Nando Parrado happens to be one of the survivors and he along
with Roberto walked for about 70 miles to reach the closest human civilisation.

‘Burnt Shadows’ is another book I picked up from the old
city in Delhi (for 100 bucks!) which has a story which begins from the bomb in
Nagasaki, to the Partition of India…moving to 9/11 and the Afghanistan of
post-9/11. It is amazing to think of such events happening in the same world,
leaving behind similar stories and similar tears. The author Kamilla Shamsie is
a Karachi based writer. And now when it’s been years after the partition, it is
tough for me to imagine that we were the same country once. There was a time
when going to Peshawar from Delhi was like going from Delhi to Nagpur. We were
one country!

Then I got a book from the Sunday market in Ahmedabad, ‘The
Mountain of Silence’ for just 20 rupees (The MRP printed on the book is 520.
Can you beat that!). This book, like the previous books turned out to be a
surprise package. The Cypriot author Kyriacos C. Markides questions the
existence of religion in a society which was started by man, and not God. Then
he slowly moves into things like meditation and similar things yet unknown to
mankind, figuring out that the idea of God is not what many people imagine it
to be. There are so many unanswered questions we live with. There are questions
about ourselves, questions about what’s beyond what we see.

I think… to buy knowledge you don’t need to go to those big
bookstores. It is right there on those little wooden carts, with the sellers of
the books, looking at the book’s thickness and judging the price.

So, apart from these wonderful explorations, there’s a new
short film I am editing about all the journeys I took in 2011, there’s a new
play called ‘Sanak’ I am writing and there are plans to travel to a new place,
soon. Sometimes it is nice to make plans, irrespective of the fact they work or not!

There is so much more to know. There is so much more to see…

Saturday, December 10, 2011


When I see a mad man, it is his mannerisms; it is the way he
eats or talks that is a new show for me. Then I wonder madness is!
What exactly is madness? How do you define madness?
Someone is termed ‘mad’ when he or she stops behaving like
the population. But then can’t this be possible that the population might be
mad and that one person is sane. This is all about perception. Who actually is

Thousands of years ago, when man started, we were all mad,
with no clothes, no plans for the future, no societies and no rules. Then we
started going ‘sane’. We learnt languages, we learnt how to write and we learnt
something which we call today as ‘Culture’. And then we made rules, of eating,
of reading, rules of sleeping, and as a whole, rules of ‘good’ living. We
declared what is right and what is wrong. And we started a race.

The race followed all the rules and we continued to follow
the rules blindly. Today our life is governed by strict rules. We keep
following them because we have learnt to follow, we rarely ask “Why?”… We
started as a mad man, then we became sane and now we are mad again. So, today
being in touch with nature is considered something cool and new, out of our
lives. May be, in a way mad!

Madness is just a perception. Nothing’s wrong or right, it’s
just perception. If the media makes something ‘wrong’ we believe it just
because we follow the media’s perception. When we watch a film some person is
the hero, and someone is the villain. That is the director’s story, his perception
which we watch and enjoy. But in real life, you are the director, so you need
to make your perception. You need to question other perceptions. You need to
know who is madder. In fact, you need to be MAD yourself…

These days, everyone wants to break the rules. That’s the
latest rule. When someone breaks the rules just because he/she wants to break 'the rules, then they are actually not. They are actually following a new rule
called ‘Break the rules’… So, what’s a rule…and how important is breaking it?
If you look at it clearly, you’ll realise that the whole idea of human civilisation
is actually madness. Rules were made to get out of madness and be sane, but now rules have created their own zone of madness, which is miles away from sanity.

We just need to think simple before watching a complex
situation. Being simple is tough these days. But that can also be a kind of

I leave it here for you to ponder upon… and ask what SANAK or madness actually

That Young man...

A young man
every day on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan,
Wakes up and
tells his father in Pashto,
“It seems to
be a clear day, no American and Pakistani army vehicles around.”

young man wakes up in Africa, picks up his rifle,
Which is
almost half his body size and is happy
that he did
not have to wake up,
With sounds
of gun shots.
In Swahili,
he mutters “It’s wonderful to wake up in PEACE!”

A tired
young man in Mankulam, Sri Lanka,
lies down in the afternoon, thinking of how
his uncle had killed
that Sri
Lankan soldier who had abused his mother.

That Tibetan
young man hugs his sister,
as she
starts crying at the taste of Thupka,
reminds it of her mom, who was killed by the
soldiers years ago.

That fair
young man in Gaza,
Kneels down
to offer prayers to God,
A God who
had done nothing to help him till date,
The war
still went on with no winners, no losers, no parents,
Israelis everywhere!

Kashmiri young man leaves home early morning,
With a kiss
on his mother’s forehead,
Assuring her
that he’ll be back in the evening.
He’s not
going for war, he’s just going to his college,
But what if
some Indian soldier catches him,
Using the
Special powers Act.
As he cycles
down to college,
He wonders
how FREE towns look like!

All these
young men,
Are not
They are in
fact one young man.
That young
Who has
never felt what FREEDOM tastes like.
That young
man who wants peace,
But is
wondering when will the world understand him.
That young
Who has
heard stories of living ‘happily ever after’,
But never
seen them in real.
That young
Who is much younger
than you and me,
But is old
enough to understand what life and death are.
That young

Monday, December 5, 2011

My worlds, my life

We talk of so many lives in one world,
But little do we talk of so many worlds in one life.
I live in diverse worlds, in the same life.

One world has my house, my parents, and memories.
Then there’s one which has my love, my friends and places and people I miss.
There’s my college, my dreams of a job or two or more,
Then there’s a world of good things I have done,
Then there’s one which has all the embarrassing moments of mine.
There’s a world which I want to be in, and there are a few I hate to be in,
Some worlds start and end in a moment, some last a lifetime, or may be further.
Some worlds I want to leave behind and move ahead,
Some I want to enter with smiles.
Some worlds which are pure nostalgia, enclosed in those old photo albums.
All different and wide apart, but my worlds.
I can’t divide these worlds by drawing lines,
In fact one leads magically into another.

I am presently traveling from Delhi to Ahmedabad,
From one world to another.
There are journeys which introduce me to worlds which were always there,
But I never saw them.
Loving these journeys, taking me from one world to another,
All in one LIFE…

(Wrote this in Ashram Express, journey from Delhi to Ahmedabad, Oct 2011.)

'Ram Ram' India!

Bajju, Rajasthan. 9 pm In Bajju, every morning I wake up for chai and smile at strangers, who break their 'Being strangers' tag ...