Thursday, 29 October 2009

Minimum City

We like to think of Mumbai as Maximum City--a city bursting with people, heart, smarts, all that. Not on every count, I learnt this quite recently. A work-worn employee of a PR firm located in Tardeo was heading back home to Mazgaon last week when cabbie after aggravating cabbie refused him a ride. He walked the length of the road right up to Mumbai Central station, where cabbies are usually quite accomodating. He was refused by at least six. Then, almost like a dream, a stranger on a motorbike slowed down and asked him if he required a lift.

The PR executive jumped on before the rider reconsidered, and the two rolled forward. He was silently congratulating himself on his luck, and congratulating this city for the goodness and open-heartedness of its people, when they reached the said destination, and the PR executive unsaddled with a grateful heart... only to have that kind Mumbaikar ask him for the cab fare he'd have coughed ip had he taken a taxi instead.

Grumbling, and having lost his hard won faith in humanity of this city, the PR executive thrust out 40 rupees, his vision of a Maximum City deflating like a balloon to a miserly, minimum one.

Beat Seat

Rush hour travel hasn't been the same ever since the new the MRVC--Siemens local trains started rolling on city tracks. Passengers routinely grumble about the total absence of leg room between rows of seats that makes the compartment appear more packed than they actually are, poor seating alignment, and completely wrong placement of overhead fans that carry the promise of a migraine attack. Now, there is an added depressant in the already depressing trains--mounds of garbage under the ergonomically challenged seats.
I have occasionally wondered why the older, sturdier locals continue to be a lot more cleaner. Last week, the reason revealed itself in a second-class general compartment. A woman passenger who'd just boarded the train looked under every empty seat and announced, "I decide on a seat based on the amount of trash underneath. After these new trains came in, we just cannot throw our chips packets and orange peels out of the window. Unlike the older trains, the window grills in these are just too narrow here. People don't have a choice but to litter all this around." Perhaps, Mumbaikars deserve what we get.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Wonder Years

Old school and college ties can be very, very strong. After all, why shouldn't they be strong? Schools and colleges are the places where most of us began to discover ourselves with the help of teachers and our place in the world. It's one place that aside from our families at home firmly established our values, our ideas of how life should be lived and our concept of what a good education is.

Schools are also the place where we made the first good friends of our lives, where we indulged in masti and mischief, where we learned how much we are capable of achieving as well as our limitations as individuals. In other words, schools were the places where we grew up in front of our teachers. Since our schools occupy most of our lives before we become responsible, grown up people, it's also the place that made some very strong memories.

Nostalgia is surely a big factor in old school ties, especially at a time when you bump into a classmate and you cannot really recall his/her name as opposed to his/her nickname he/she had all through school. Obviously, there are shared memories. Nostalgia exists in various degrees. For people who haven't, or don't, keep in touch with batchmates beyond their social friends, nostalgia is what keeps the party going when they land up for an occasional reunion. To tell the truth, nostalgia often begins at the school itself, in the final year. There's just one exam left and then it'll dawn upon us that it'll be over. Which, after years of togetherness, can be unnerving. Memory collection becomes really important at this stage. Upto class IX, the full class is generally a divided lot but suddenly in class X, there is this tremendous unity because you realize that it's going to be over. So, the memories have to be maintained at any cost.

Our old school and college ties continue to bind because of our friends. Everyone would acknowledge the fact that the Internet has done much to make old school ties strong. I have no strong feelings for them, either way, though I did get a good education and was very fond of some of my teachers. But if you ask me what was so wonderful about school, I'd say without doubt that it was the friends I made there. One of my friends posted a photograph on Facebook taken before the Deepavali vacations in Class IX when there was a fancy dress competition and a party was organized to recreate that photograph and guess what, a lot of my classmates actually showed up.

Friendships are something that most of us would acknowledge after some thought. It is often difficult to separate the friendships from the school when the friendship happened because of the school. I personally believe that there are certain friendships which just cannot happen elsewhere but school. The school had certain values and ideas about life, people who went there shared those values and ideas of life. The moment someone tells me that he/she is from my school, there are ten questions I don't need to ask. The batch and the institution is also important. The batch is important since we grew up together, which in itself is a big bond. The institution is important because it provides the values you live by--and that's again a big bond that's established.

Shared values is another important value established during school years. They can often be very strong in themselves that age and generation have no meaning. Older people generally tend to have an automatic affection for--or at least a sense of responsibility towards--younger people from their old schools. The same is the case with memories; they come and give us happiness. They go away leaving us with nothing but sadness. When they come, we cherish them like the morning sun's beautiful rays. When they're no more we can do nothing but just miss those old days!! It's because of the old school ties that continue to bind us wherever we go since they are so strong.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Festival of noise

Sitting with friends and family, celebrating Diwali by watching movies and indulging in gossip sessions. Still, it's the family being together that matters. Deepavali is a big deal in my house, and I feel that we often lose sight of what's really important in all of this. People go nuts with buying new stuff, playing cards and gambling away huge sums of money... they spend tens of thousands of rupees on crackers, which have always infuriated me.

I always used to hate the noisy crackers because they would terrify me since childhood. I remember my mother telling me how I cried everytime someone burst a noisy cracker when I was a baby. I remember how my grandmother dreads the Deepavali time due to the noise outside that would go on all night. I was very particular about using the silent crackers, the kind that light up, but don't explode.

Then I got older and realised that even though I wasn't making a racker, I was still polluting the air horribly. The morning after Deepavali in any big city is nightmarish. There's thick smog everywhere. Come on, what are we doing? We're shelling out piles of hard-earned cash to pollute our own cities. To give our own kids breathing problems and making life hell for senior citizens. Still, as long as the family's having fun together, right?

I'll never understand where the whole firecracker thing came from; Deepavali is celebrated to commemorate the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after a long 14 year exile. People lit oil lamps along the way to light his path. To my knowledge, I don't think anyone set off rockets to welcome Him home. Nor were the roads lined with strips of 10,000 crackers. Bit of a rant, I know, but it's something that's always bothered me right from childhood. I'm thinking of my grandmother, who prays that Deepavali should never come. It must be horrible for her. The racket's going to go on all night, and there's nothing I can do. No way for me to explain what's going on, or why.

But I like Deepavali. My mom, cousins and I go around the house lighting diyas in all the window sills, so the house is lit up. It looks beautiful. One of my uncles insist that the tubelights should be off for an hour in order to light the house with diyas for an hour, which is almost like the idea of encouraging the theme of ''Deepolsavam'' and at the same time, it also calls for energy conservation. I spend the evening with my family and my friends, catching up and chatting till late in the night. We have a blast and yes, we never forget to gorge on sweets and savouries. That's how I celebrate Deepavali and yes, I'm planning to do my bit for energy conservation by encouraging the idea of ''Deepolsavam''.

I don't know how many of you have thought about any of the things I have ranted about today. Maybe some of you already feel this way. Maybe some of you had never thought about it, but please try to see my point of view now. Some of you might think I'm over-reacting, who knows. Whatever the case; if nothing else, try and spare a thought for senior citizens and animals.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Season's greetings

It's finally here... that wonderful time of the year when we polish ourselves and our houses, put on our finery, participate in various rituals, gift (willingly for a change!!) and just come together to celebrate. It's Deepavali and I, for once, am truly excited.

It's a festival that has always had a special meaning to me and it comes with so many shiny, happy memories. This year, I'm spending it with my family and a few relatives from Delhi, which is a real treat! Because of work and the art venture commitments, I couldn't spend it with my family last year, but this time around, I made sure that no matter what happened, I would be here in Bombay, to celebrate it with them.

Diwali has certain traditions and rituals that you follow as a family and at my house, the responsibility is divided between all the members of the family that are present in the city. As far as I can remember, my mum gave me th responsibility of distributing the sweets and savouries to all the neighbours and decorating the house with diyas and flowers. My role also included ensuring that none of the diyas lost their light! This year too, we continue the tradition and I am looking forward to letting my creativity flow as I set about distributing sweets and savouries as well as decorating the house with diyas and flowers.

For me, Diwali has also always been a symbol of new beginnings... a time to forget all your troubles and just celebrate being alive. It's also a time when I get to indulge (guilt-free) is one of my favourite pastimes... giving gifts! I love thinking of specialized, personalized gifts to give my friends and family and seeing their faces come alive when they receive the gifts. The presence of childhood friends, this year, I spent a lot of time and effort on my Deepavali gifts and I'm actually very happy with the outcome... I just hope everyone who receives them thinks the same.

Fireworks were very much a part of my early growing years and something I looked forward to, but one Diwali, when I was 14 years old, my cousin brother passed away at the age of 19, which is why I lost interest in bursting crackers. The morning after the Deepavali night, I looked out of the window, only to open my eyes to the after-effects of fireworks---the huge pile of garbage everywhere and the smog that settled over the streets! I was shocked. Ever since then, I stopped myself from playing with fireworks, not just for the reasons mentioned above but also because of the damage it is doing to the environment and also because of the exploitation of young children in the factories that churn out these fireworks. If you must, get together in a group and burst a few but make sure you clean up after you're done!

The Diwali night has always been a little special. It is a tradition in my house to switch off all the lights in the house and light the house with diyas. Of course, it is a concept known as ''Deepolsavam'', which we plagiarized from a temple in Bangalore. It is a beautiful sight to be greeted with arrays of painted diyas. My Diwali outfit is identified... the diyas are ready to be lit... my sister has come home to design the rangolis with graphics that have been sketched, the special menu of the gastronomic delights is ready to be served... the lights are ready to be switched off for the ''Deepolsavam''.

Before I go, from my family to yours, I would like to wish everyone a very happy and safe Deepavali. I hope it brings you the joy, laughter and wonderful memories that it gives me every year.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Beggars and tears

Logically speaking, it's not easy for a man to lose his wallet in the ladies compartment of a local train. But a thin, frail man from Pune knows that rationality is a rare resource in today's times. That's why, everyday, this man enters the ladies compartments of Dombivli locals in the afternoons and immediately starts searching the floor. He looks everywhere, under the seats, on window sills, negotiating his way through the crowd of freshly curious women.

After five minutes of nautanki and this desperate exercise, he excites sympathy and interest. "What are you looking for?" A tall woman asks. "Didi, I've lost all my money and have nowhere to go," he croaks in Marathi, almost on the verge of tears and continues his routine. "Please let her not fall for it," prays another woman passenger not very far away. She is familiar with this beggar's moves, but before she could warn the lady, the damage was done. Hydraulic force prevails over logic. The desperate man in tattered clothes steps down slowly with fake gratitude and a hundred rupees.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Who Needs Bandstand when you have BEST?

It will take a while before the moral police get to this, but it turns out on rainy days, there is a greater dearth of places for idle youth of Mumbai to hang out. Some days ago, four twenty something boys were seen chit-chatting in an empty BEST bus as it stood parked at the bus depot. When the bus finally started, the youth promptly got off---and then got on to the next empty bus waiting to take off.

Considering that most buses in the city of Mumbai enjoy an average of 20 minutes parking time before they are ready to hit the roads once again, these youngsters have a good thing going. It's free, it's clean, and there's no police snooping around. Now, what if all those displaced from the seafronts of Mumbai knew this....

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Change for a change

It was so terribly hot and I started feeling like I am in a huge sauna. Thankfully, it rained and today I am feeling cold. Since none of my clothes are dry, I have had to manage wearing a flimsy white vest. Fed up of studying I turn to the Internet to update my blog and then head to the living room to catch up on the developing stories. Breaking news is that Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring Karnataka are reeling through flash floods and it's expected to get worse. Worried, I head out to the window to soak in some cool air and sip a hot cup of tea. Oh my God, I just cannot believe what I just saw.

A huge wave---40 feet, no 5o feet, God no, it's at least 60 feet--is coming straight at me. I run out of the room, down the passage, out of the door, but it's too late. The wave pounds me, I'm drowning, gasping for air.. I wake up shivering. I look around and sigh with relief! It was just a Godforsaken dream! But it felt so real, I run towards the window to double check. Phew! It's a lovely day outside; birds chirping; raindrops falling gently on the windowpanes, grey skies and cool winds signal life. Still shaken from the dream, I head out to my coffee machine, only to be greeted by friend, who notices my petrified look. "Are you alright? You look all shaken up!" I sigh and tell him about my dream. I also tell him that the last three times I've dreamt about something it's come true--food prices rising, failing in exams and even falling on hard times.

Looking at me straight in the eye, my friend pronounced, "Well, I'm afraid that you're right this time as well. I mean look at the world around you. We have tampered with nature for far too long, it's payback time soon. Another 15 years, and your dream will be a reality. Maybe sooner, if we don't salvage whatever is still left. The forests are diminishing, animals and corals dying, droughts, floods, erratic weather conditions--but do we really care? There is enough for man's needs Akshay, unfortunately not enough for his greed."

I felt inspired after listening to his words and rush to finish a few pending chores. I have to do bit in my protecting the world from extinction. Surely, we need to protect it jointly and when I asked my friend on how to protect the world. "Well, firstly begin by switching off your television when not in use and switch it off from the main switch in the night," smirked my friend. Embarrassed, I quickly rushed for the remote. "Before you change the world, change yourself Akshay. Start with your own life. Begin with small little changes in your life. Switch off the lights and fans when you're not in the room. Don't let your car idle especially when you're stuck at traffic signals, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, don't leave the computer in hibernate or sleep modes, stop using plastic bags, avoid keeping your phone on vibrate mode, use energy saving bulbs. On Saturday night, switch off the power supply for an hour--and you could still reverse the damage."

His words resound in my head as I head back home. I take an auto-rickshaw and ask him politely to switch off the engine while I wait for the traffic signal to turn green. To my right, I observed a mother rushing her child to the school bus, stuffing his bag with a tiffin box. I could not help but think, "It's great how parents can give their children everything they can--education, luxuries, toys and pleasures. But are they giving them a planet that has a future?" I turned to the left, and I could spot a car letting out the toxic smoke. I am angered and ready for a confrontation, but then I realise that it's something that everyone needs to be aware about.

Before I step out to change the world, we have to change ourselves. Change, so that my world, does not turn into a nightmare!!

Personal Space, what's that?

If you thought the stunts in Khatron Ke Khiladi was scary, my friend dares you to take a bus ride from Mumbai to Khed. Blame it on the shoe-string budget travel or his talent for inviting third-degree torture, but a recent trekking trip to the Konkan side of Maharashtra was punctuated by a run-ins with ''interesting'' bus conductors.

His first destination, Mahad, a city in the Raigad district, is only accessible by road. Having already experienced the "ups and downs'' in the life of an ST bus earlier, he took a ''private tempo'' option from Karjat, the nearest town in the Raigad district. Now we've heard of private transport guys overloading their vehicles, but there needs to be regulation on this, for the sake of human rights. He was hauled in at the back of a 'Trax', a 10-seater van, far from vintage. Before he could say, ''thamba'' (Stop in Marathi), he found himself sharing space with someone else's suitcase (on his lap), an ogling infant and an about-to-puke tribal woman.

The opportunist conductor, after loading the van to thrice its capacity, was contorting at 90 degrees, yet smiling at his runaway success. "It isn't this bad everyday," he told my friend, perhaps looking at my friend's disgusted expression.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Trying to make sense of life

I am sick of writing exams. I am tired of living life as though it is a rat race and I am stressed and above all, I am scared to think of my results. I hope you are better than I am! God, it's been a rough couple of weeks. I keep waiting for this run of luck to break, but apparently things are coming to a head in my life. Sometimes, I feel life has to get really hard, in order for one to take a stock, to look at what's wrong, and what needs to change. I think I'm in one of those phases.

Coming to think of it, didn't I write months ago about Good Morning Sunshine with a few of my favourite things? As I sheepishly remember writing, the return of Saturn tends to make things harder for you before things get easier, in order to push you into the changes you need to make. Ha! Apparently Saturn wasn't going to let me forget the ordeal and torture I underwent with Maths.

I apologize if I am sounding cryptic; it's just that I am not in the frame of mind to write a happy-happy post when things are so rough, for I cannot bring myself to lie right now. I am sick, as mentioned above. Being really sick brings out the baby in most of us, and I am no exception. I have always been the guns-blazing type of boy, and usually push myself past my limit, until my body forces me to take rest by getting sick. I guess a hectic with exams, following with artist management teams, replying back to messages, mails, tweets and SMSes along with studies and all the manner of work in the middle, was going to take its toll! But really, that's a lie, and I said in the very beginning that I would not like to lie. It's not just exams and studies; I am having a hard time in my own life right now. It's all piled up like a mountain at the same time, and it's one of those rare times in my life that I'm barely keeping it together.

I'm tired, because last week I was teaching a friend a chapter of English Grammar on Monday, I was commuting to college to write an exam on Tuesday, I was following up with some volunteers of my artist management venture on Wednesday, I was commuting in a bus in the evening rush to get home from college on Thursday, I was teaching a chapter in Hindi to a friend on Friday and on Saturday, I finally found the time to come online and update my blog and in the midst of this, my brain starts spinning like a whirlpool. No wonder, I'm sick!!

I'm stressed, because I go back to college on Monday to write another exam and there are relatives who would be coming later this week to invade my privacy. There is an insane amount of work to wrap up before I head to college on Monday and if I don't fix all that before I leave there's no time after the exams. My personal life is currently in shambles and I am trying to make what sense of it that I can.

I am scared because a dear friend of mine was just went through something really traumatic, and is dealing with the repercussions. Talking to him on the phone for hours everyday is the only thing I can do for him, and it's draining, though of course, I wish I could do much more. I want him to get better, so much, and I am trying to find it in me to do what a good friend does, and goes beyond my limits to be there for him.

Well, if you are still reading this, I applaud your high patience levels. Thank you so much for reading this diatribe, and warm wishes to you.

Friday, 2 October 2009

It's you who matters

For as far back as I can remember, my parents inculcated the fact that there is no substitute for hardwork and it's something that I tried to bring to everything that I have done. But.... I realised very early on in my life, hardwork does not necessarily guarantee recognition and appreciation. Which is why, I am so nervous before writing everything over here and any other activity I am a part of.

In the week before my results, I am always breathless with anticipation about the response my marks will evoke from my parents and my performance in the exams. When feedback starts pouring in the form of criticism and positive responses, it can be euphoric or heartbreaking. Well because I have been blessed and I am fortunate enough, especially over the past week, to have been flooded by warm, loving and appreciative mails for raising my voice against corruption in a debate. I must add that I am humbled and overjoyed at the same time.

Enriched and much more with the outpouring messages on Facebook and mails and a dedicated set of girls who pinpoint flaws and mistakes and at the same time, appreciate my effort in writing. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing your work has been appreciated and that you have found a connect with a sizeable number of people from across geographies!

This was further reiterated last week when I stood on the stage to win the ''Most Promising Writer'' award. It was very, very humbling to be standing there with this wonderful award in my hand knowing that the reason I was there, was because of a few teachers who happened to read a short story of mine that I had written. In many ways, I am because of the support of my teachers and friends...

So today, I want to thank all my teachers and of course, my friends, without whom I am incomplete. Each one of you who would be reading my write-up. Thank you so much for taking out the effort to connect with me by reading each post and for encouraging me to write better and to keep doing what I am doing with your feedback and criticisms. I may not be able to respond to everyone, but I assure you that each comment, e-mail, letter, message is important to me.

I am working on a new idea of writing a novel about a falling film star desperately trying to make a comeback. I am also working on a strategy with which I can connect with everyone of you on a more regular, one-to-one basis. So, I am requesting you to please send me a mail on, so that I can respond to each one of you. Until then, please don't stop connecting with me. I look forward for your feedback...whether if it is praise or critique. What matters to me.... is that it's real.

Movie Review: Mumbai Meri Jaan

Mumbai Meri Jaan is a movie I had seen in the theatre (despite of the Censor Board rating it as an ''A'' movie). I wanted to review this movie long back but somewhere I never got the time to do it. As they say, better late than never. Mumbai Meri Jaan is a movie about the serial bombings of suburban trains in Mumbai of 2006 which is a nightmarish incidents the nation would never forget. Mumbaikars still get gooseflesh recalling the ghastly incident. Mumbai Meri Jaan recreates the incident on celluloid, but it is not terrorism per se. It talks about the aftermath of this tragedy and how the lives of five people, not remotely connected or associated with one another, gets affected in the process.

Mumbai Meri Jaan is more of an emotional journey. Five varied stories unveil in those two hours and each story manages to make a statement. Nishikant Kamat's first Hindi venture is one of those films that don't deviate from the core issue. It is not foolproof in terms of writing, but the execution is so compelling that one overlooks the minor blemishes in the narrative. Mumbai Meri Jaan is more of a tribute to the never-dying spirit of this dynamic city called Mumbai. A film that every citizen should watch.

On July 11 2006, the suburban trains, which are known as the lifelines of Mumbai, was struck by a series of bomb blasts. Mumbai Meri Jaan explores the impact of this devastating incident on the lives of people of Mumbai. From a brilliant broadcast journalist Rupali Joshi (Soha Ali Khan) to a patriotic corporate man Nikhil Mathur (R. Madhavan), from a retiring policeman Waghmare (Paresh Rawal) at the twilight of his life to a rookie cop Kadam (Vijay Maurya) at the dawn of his career; from an angry and xenophobic unemployed young man Suresh (K.K. Menon) to a coffee-vendor Thomas (Irrfan Khan) who is struggling to survive and belong: Mumbai Meri Jaan follows the lives of people from all strata of Mumbai's bustling society as they tackle the aftermath of a fatal accident that brings out the best and sometimes the worst in them.

Mumbai Meri Jaan looks at the common tragedy, but diversifies into five different stories at the very start itself. Each of those stories and the characters depicted in those stories are relatable. If you haven't witnessed these people, there is a possibility that you may have read or heard about them through the media.

Amongst the five stories, the ones that leave a strong impression are the Paresh Rawal--Vijay Maurya, Irrfan Khan and K.K. Menon. Soha's story may not appeal as much since it tends to go a little overboard, while Madhavan's story has its moments, but it is not as impactful.

Nishikant Kamat has executed the sensitive subject with gloves, handling each of those five stories with care. A number of emotional moments in the narrative move you and at times, depress no end. Credit must also be reserved for its writer as also the art director, who has recreated the ghastly incident so realistically.

Every performance in the film is applaud-worthy. Paresh Rawal is strictly ok. Irrfan Khan is as always marvellous. K.K. Menon is fantastic and the actor makes his part appear so real. Soha is a huge surprise. She is at her best in the scenes which depict her emotional breakdown at the morgue and you know that she has gradually evolved into a terrific actor. Madhavan is equally competent, conveying so much even when silent. Vijay Maurya is superb and his scenes with Paresh Rawal are good.

On the whole, Mumbai Meri Jaan is a well-intentioned film that should win praise for its execution and performances. It's more for the discerning viewer, for those who swear by serious cinema. Even if you're not a resident of Mumbai, make it a point to watch it because it is a universal theme. On the ratings scale, out of five, three out of five.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Movie Review: Titli

Rituparno Ghosh has directed some great Bengali movies and he is one of the best directors among the young parallel movie directors. Rituparno is peerless when it comes to scripting complex screenplays. I must admit that he handles stories with multiple characters beautifully. Many of his movies are women-oriented and many of his movies have won the National Award. On the recommendation of a friend, I watched the Bengali movie "Titli" on Youtube.

The story of Titli develops around the evolution of Titli from a girl into womanhood, through the breaking of the crush. The story is set in Darjeeling and the dense jungles of Duars in North Bengal, covered in dense morning fog, the sunshine playing hide-and-seek, Buddhist monastries, the famous Darjeeling toy train, interleaved with poetry and music, create the romantic ambience underpinning this film.

Titli (Konkona Sen Sharma), is a 17 year old girl who has a teenage crush on a Bollywood superstar Rohit Roy (Mithun Chakraborty), who is more than twice her age. Though her bedroom is filled with his posters and memorabilia, Titli's mother Urmila (Aparna Sen) is surprised to learn that she could even marry this much older man. Titli and Urmila are going by jeep to receive Titli's father from the airport. The jeep is shared, and as it happens, their co-passenger is none other than Rohit Roy himself, who has a flight to catch from Siliguri.

Titli's adolescent dreams are set on fire after she meets her crush face to face. Their conversation is interrupted by a halt necessitated by the coolant running out. Rohit also needs a cigarette, and Titli wants to get them, and gets Rohit to agree. While she is gone, it is revealed that twenty years ago, Urmila and Rohit were lovers, when Rohit was an outsider looking for roles in the Bengali film industry situated at Tollygunge. Today, Urmila is married, but that doesn't stop them from reminiscing longingly. Urmila recites lines from the well-known Shakti Chatterjee poem, "Abani Bari Aachho?" (Abani, are you home?)

The immensely talented director Rituparno Ghosh gives a unique dimension to the film that would make viewers of sensitive films such as this lap it up. Right from the opening moments, when the lilting song, ''Megh Peon'' fills the air, the viewer is likely to be enthralled. Mithun Chakraborty, as the ''hero'', tries his best to cater to the demands of a film of this nature and he mostly succeeds. Aparna Sen, as usual, gives a superlative performance. It is Konkona Sen Sharma who excels as the young girl--torn and confused. Konkona grabs all the attention, deservedly; she did this film before got noticed and won praises for Page 3.

The final laudatory words must be in favour of the brilliant cinematography of Abheek Mukherjee. Nature has not been so effectively in a film for a long, long time. The myriad monsoons accentuates the myriad moods of humans. The film is to be watched with family and on the ratings scale, three out of five.