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Monday, June 29, 2015

Of Shorts, And Performances, And Ads And Acting: Some Reels In Real Lights

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There was a time when I was a movie buff, and almost any new good movie that released was a sure-shot puller. Things have changed a lot for me now.

Of course I do love movies still, and I make it a point to try and watch as many of those as possible, provided they are of my sensibility (you all know my Sallu craziness so for now I won't deviate there) ;)

Coming back to what I was saying earlier, there has been a change in my style of viewing for sure, and as I am getting older (let's read it as 'mature') I am definitely getting better at accepting, exploring, grasping and appreciating art forms in different styles.

One such art form that I seem to be loving a lot of late is the short movie genre.

Short movies are typically those step-children of our Indian cinema that may posses greater potential than their larger-than-life siblings, but are always at a loss when it comes to presenting themselves in front of a wider audience. Of course the general consensus is that those who watch short movies are the typical art movie junta (and I personally have no qualms about being called one, I love art films), but I also love many of the typical masala movies. It is still beyond my understanding as to why we have to get slotted towards a particular mind-frame when being 'allowed' to watch a movie.

Some time back I was really excited to read about the PVR collab where the movie theater franchise would partner with some of the best movie directors of the world (both full length and short features) and play them as part of their editor's choice movie selections. Sadly, the initiative is yet to kick off. I understand that as a money-making machine, movie halls always want to be sure of how much profit they will make when they showcase a certain movie. Maybe short films have still not given them that return. But that does not mean they do not deserve a showing. In fact, as someone who has been an avid short film lover for quite some time now, I feel that making a good short film is way more difficult than making a full length, as you have barely a three to twenty minute frame in which you have to squeeze in every part of the story, from character buildup to narration to connecting  the past to the present and taking it ahead to the future, to developing a bond, to help the audience connect and even to take you into that realm where you can safely and very clearly start making your own interpretations. There is no doubt about it that the work a short film goes through is way more advanced than a full-length, even though the Indian audience has to grow up and understand the same, and stop missing out on some amazing work (movie owners, if you read this, know that there is a huge segment out there that is constantly watching short films, so go for it!).

Thursday, June 25, 2015

You May Ask Me My Age, Thank You

That's the past few weeks or so, bare faced and with hardly any makeup on save a dark kohl and an almost eaten up remnant of a lipstick.....and clicking myself on a phone cam.

That's not even combed out, on a road trip heading out somewhere I don't remember, but it was a five to six hour journey, so by the time I had clicked this as a fun selfie, I was already quite far from being 'groomed.' Not that I had started out looking very groomed though. The point is, I am kind of comfortable being this way...

I am 34, and no, I have no worries in sharing my age. A fun thing that I still get a lot is when people ask me questions and hints trying to know my age, but feel awkward asking me point blank. I always ease them by telling them my age myself. 'Never ask a man his income and a woman her age...' The old-age etiquette line we've been listening to almost all our life is kind of redundant now I feel. And very sexist. And very uncool. And very unnecessary.

Not that you have to tell me how old you are or how much you make or have stashed away in a cozy nest in your bank. Does not interest me either.

With so much around us changing and gender dictats shifting constantly, it is no longer polite to ask anything to anyone, or maybe it is okay to ask anyone anything. Depends.

Looking around, I see so many men in their supposedly settled age who are still struggling to make it, to have a stable pay, to get all those things that men (I speak in terms of general social thoughts in this case and not my own at all) are supposed to have 'achieved' by the time they are a certain age - a house, a car, a trophy wife (of course, its the truth), kids (ya, men get to hear that too, ask the nosy family members), who look fab, don't have a pot belly or a receding hairline, who seem to be stress free and are always up for a party. Men who sport their salt and pepper the way it is meant to be, dashing and charming, men with those old-world mannerisms that make a woman feel special, equal, loved, cherished, treasured if you may. Men who have made a mark and are happy to flaunt it, young boys who walk up to you in a bar, want to chat up, have that obvious look in their eyes and leave once you tell them to get up and go, men who leer and will not take no for an answer, men who will always ask if you are comfortable with them being around. Men who are committed and not looking, men who are always looking.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Wow You Don't Look Like A Mom...Good Or Bad? Depends....

I used to get this comment a lot earlier (when I was more kilos heavier) and I am suddenly getting to hear it again a lot....some kilos lighter maybe but overall the way I was.....

I really don't see any change in me...whether it is the number on the weighing scale (that I've stopped looking at a long time back - my struggles with losing weight and wanting to look thin are well-known to my friends), my moods, my openness which often gets misconstrued, my sudden aloofness from everyone, including those I really really love, my depression, withdrawal, my chirpiness, happiness and the excitement and happiness I feel and express when I meet friends I really really love... It's still all the same.

The one thing that has suddenly made me very wary is the comment - 'you don't look like a mom.'

It's a good and a bad thing for me .........

When a friend tells me I am not looking like a mom, I take it to be in a good sense, that I may have lost some weight, or that I am not grumpy or hassled or walking around like a zombie with dark circles around my eyes .....

When a stranger tells me on social media that I don't look like a mom, I am always very uncomfortable. Of late I have started telling strangers, men to be precise, my age and that I have two kids, especially when I know their interest in me is veering towards a particular direction. It has become more of a defense mechanism rather. And I find that it helps.....I have reached a stage in life where I am not looking anymore. Really....

The relationships I have (and a relationship is not just being married or being in a particular 'couple' kind of love with someone) in my life mean a lot to me, and I have always steered clear of boxing them in one particular column. It does not work for me that way....

For me, if I like someone I like could be a boy, a girl, a man, a woman, someone I have met only once in my life, or someone I meet maybe once in 5 or 6 months, or even less, it all depends on how comfortable I am with that person and how happy it makes me to see them...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tales From The Lift: Of Midnight Walks In The Rain And A Leechy Neighbour Again

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It's the perfect time to call him the 'leech' - those blood sucking irritating things that just won't go away no matter what you do - it's rain time here in Mumbai now, the time when these creepy things can be seen around, all pun intended, and they sure make a presence felt around us, come rain or not (here I am of course talking about the four limbed variety if you may).

So those who are close to me know me that I absolutely love rains, that I absolutely love walking at night, and that an absolutely amazing combo for me is walking in the rain....I love it...and of course without an umbrella or a raincoat (that would so defeat the purpose for me).

So last night I had a great walk of an hour around midnight. The rains were sometimes a light drizzle and sometimes a lovely downpour, and I was enjoying myself thoroughly. The breeze was crazy, coming in from the sea and literally pushing me and almost throwing me off balance so many times that it was even more fun (no, I am not saying that I am as light as a feather, but I mean that the wind was so strong that it managed to push me).....I even got visited by a few bat family members. No, I don't really like them though and feel they are best experienced in a book I might be reading to get the spooks, coz that is just what they manage to do - give me the spooks....But they did come in flying down and above, circled a few times then left, or maybe I failed to notice.

An hour done, I wrapped up my music, took a last few cool down rounds and headed towards the lift. There was no one around, and it was all quiet and fine....

Till the doors opened and oh yucks no....that absolute irritant of a man that I really cannot stand (and all credits to him that he knows I cannot stand him yet he continues to do what he does) comes out of the lift and does what ??????

The moment the doors open (he saw me even as they were just opening) he gave that sick smile of his and I knew he was alone. I'll come back to that soon....So he comes out and comes over straight to me, even as I have no smile on my face, but I know my expression already told him I was not interested to talk. AT ALL....

So he comes over and in an almost whistle says 'whoa ho ho .... look who's back....and look who's been doing something great with did you lose so much weight?'

Did he really think I would talk to him about it? Moron.....

And even though I said nothing he came up with his hand extended (for a lame handshake of an excuse) and I crossed him and went inside the lift. He turned back and came towards me, saying something out of which I heard 'I saw your pictures day before' and I was wondering what pictures? Where can he see my pictures? I don't have him on any social media, I don't even know his name for crying out loud....and I was really puzzled.

It was when I came home I realized he is a friend of a common friend's friend, and that is how he reached my pictures....I was not concerned that he had checked me out online, most frustrated good for nothing people can only do that - check out others' profiles and become the quiet online stalkers. But of course I have loads of pictures of my kids on the site, and I got the common friend thread snapped out.

So what makes this man behave like this over and over again?

If it was me in my earlier days he would have been slapped and shamed and given the shit of his life by now. I have however, toned down, a lot of which has happened after I became a mom, as somehow, I always try to sort out things calmly for as long as possible.

But this man from the lift (that is how he originally met me and started exhibiting his creepiness) has now literally spilled out of the lift....

And there is a pattern.....

Any time he meets me when I am with someone else or he is with someone else or there is any third person in the vicinity, he will never come near me. No. All he does is just nod his head and give a polite formal smile, as if he just happened to see me and is doing a courtesy out of living in the same building.

And when he meets me with just him and me being the people around? Then comes out his creepiness. From what I do to where I go out with friends to what tattoos I have and where I have and what do they mean and why I got them done and comments about what I am wearing or how I am looking or why I am returning when I am to everything else that is clearly none of his business. No...

This man is getting too pally for my comfort.

A few days back I was talking to a friend and was telling him how the 'uncle' category men have a tendency to prey on women and girls who are genuinely not interested in them. He told me he had never noticed it, or rather not given it any thought, but I told him to keep an eye out next time.

The funniest remark this man made was that I remind him of someone, and that he can't tell me who it is, as for that he will have to come to my place and tell me 'personally.' To which I told him that I only let my friends come home and not any stranger, even if from the building....He understood, it was clear from his face, but he chooses to play it like that.

This man is getting to really bug me now...the fun side being that I get to share so much about him in the tales....and maybe one day he will help me add a violent or really angry twist to it....Tales From The Lift...Woman Hits Man Black And Blue With Her Boots.....

I'm kind of liking the title idea, whatsay? ;)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tales From The Lift And More: I Know You Are Staring And Judging

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It happens almost all the time. And the worst part is that I know, maybe. So it is not another of those lift tales that is just unique to my building, I am sure it is something most women and young girls can associate with.

So whenever I enter the lift, I make it a point to not look around and see who all is there. I am generally not interested. If there is someone I know, they always give me a shoutout. So that's that.

Standing in a corner, with my headphones in place, and most likely a gum in my mouth, I always try to be as quiet and as inconspicuous as possible, because I hate it when people look at me, or rather, stare. So even if I am standing quietly, minding my own songs and music, or just staring like a zombie at the numbers flashing through the lift screen, the passengers invariably take a look. At the tattoos first of all. Really? It's still such a big deal? Why? I have encountered this sudden urge of strangers, mostly Indian male type age group and mentality here, who have been really really interested in knowing more about my tattoos (I am sure they do the same with any woman they come across who has a tattoo!).

And once they start checking out the tattoo, it doesn't take them too long to check out the person who's wearing the tattoo....

And the worst as well as the fun part is - I always give them the stare back...I always end up looking them up and down, making it obvious to them that I am staring. And not in a nice way. And sometimes, I have also raised my eyebrow, asking without asking - 'what do you want'

And they have stopped then.

I sometimes feel we are progressing somewhere, and I am sometimes sure that that progress for some is strictly going to the gutters....cheerios to them there then.....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

And like I always believe in and say:
"Heal the world we live in
Save it for our children" - MJ

Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Brand New Myntra Ad That Happens To Also Have Lesbians For The First Time In Indian Ad History

As an ad that has taken the virtual world and even the news and print media by storm, this delightfully delectable short film version of an ad does deserve all the credit and love that is garnering. The ad that I am talking about is the one titled The Visit that has been produced by Avishek Ghosh of Hectic Content and has been currently doing the rounds as a virtual ad for Myntra.

I will not get into the right or wrong about Section 377 and whether or not the Indian system needs to wake up to something - we have all done it to death by now, and I have already spoken my mind about it on various platforms. I know that those who sit with that leash of power out there somewhere already know what the thinking woman and man in India feels about it. But alas, we still do not have the power to really make it look as normal as it already is...then that's a story for another post here someday.

Coming back to the ad, it's beauty lies not in the fact that it shows two girls who are in love and are willingly choosing to be with each other. For me, it's beauty lies in the fact that no where during the ad do you feel that the makers have tried to capitalize on it. In fact, you can rightly say that it is the exact opposite - where the makers have 'come out' with what they feel is something very normal, that should not be raising any eyebrows, and that the couple showed in the ad are as regular as the so-called man-woman relationship, and that it just happens to be that instead of a man and woman being together, it is a woman and be it....

A quick chat with producer and editor Avishek Ghosh on the thought behind the ad....HERE

You can check out the ad HERE