Friday, December 30, 2011

Burning Zeppelin

Last step on the stairway.
And the strings break away.

Heaven within grabs.
Skin undeterred by stabs.
Flesh harder than metal.
Impulse willing to settle.

But a bend too much to take.
And an unforeseen mishap.
If not the whole stairway,
I wish I could buy the last step.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Secret In Her Eyes

Laughter of a child?
Some thoughts running wild?
A deep long sigh?
Or some tears gone dry?
Some ideas insane?
Or a heart drenched in pain?
Those feelings she wants to lock inside
disclose themselves in her eyes.

Make a guess, take the hint.
The truth that lies in that glint.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

यादों का सैलाब

छुपाये नहीं छुपता था तेरा नूर हिजाब से.
जैसे छीन लाया हो लाली तेरा चेहरा किसी गुलाब से.
भूलना तो बोहत चाहा तुझको ऐ बेवफा.
मगर उमड़ आते थे हर लम्हा तेरे ख्याल बेहिसाब से.
बन गए शायर हम भी कुछ इस गुमान में
कि फाड़ देंगे तेरे नाम के पन्ने ज़िन्दगी की किताब से.
अब दिन के पहर  गुज़रते हैं तेरी यादों के बगैर,
पर क्या करें, तेरी स्याही न मिटा सके रातो के ख्वाब से.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RIP Amy... and RIP rest of you

Another musician dies a pre-mature death this weekend - Amy Winehouse.

Frankly speaking, I hadn't listened to much of her music, and I didn't even care if she had a great voice (as critics claim) while she was alive. I am the kind of guy who doesn't like expanding his horizons beyond his pre-set bounds as far as music is concerned. And my bounds are limited to British Rock from the 60s, 70s and 80s. So any news about the likes of Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Eminem, and even the modern rock bands like Green Day and Linkin Park, doesn't excite me much.

However, the news of Winehouse's pre-mature death made me stop and think for a while - Why is it that musicians become easy target to an early death as compared to other celebrities?

Its not the first time that a famous musician has died at a young age while he / she was at the pinnacle of his / her career in music. It is in fact a very strange thing that the mortality rate at a pre-mature age amongst musicians is much higher as compared to that in other similar professionals - painters, sportspersons, actors, all of them have a greater chance of living a long life as compared to musicians.

The causes of these musicians' pre-mature deaths are also not the same always. Here are some of the ways I remember some of the well-known musicians died -
1. Over consumption of alcohol / drugs
2. Over consumption of sleeping pills
3. Heart failure, cancer, Aids
4. Accident
5. Murder
6. Suicide

And here is the list of famous musicians I remember who died quite early (not in any specific order), and the causes of their deaths -

1. Jimi Hendrix - Died at age of 27 due to over-consumption of sleeping pills.

2. Janis Joplin - She was 27 when she died. The cause is reported to be overdose of heroin.

3. John Lennon - Former member of "The Beatles". Murdered at the age of 40.

4. John Bonham - Led Zeppelin drummer. Died aged 32, due to over-consumption of alcohol.

5. Keith Moon - Drummer in the band "The Who". Died at age 32 due to over-consumption of a prescribed drug.

6. Dimebag Darrell Abbot - Guitarist in the heavy metal band "Pantera". Murdered while carrying out a live performance at the age of 38.

7. Brian Jones - Founder and former guitarist of "The Rolling Stones". Died at age of 27 when he was found drowned in swimming pool. It is uncertain whether it was an accident or a murder.

8. Jim Morrison - Lead singer of band "The Doors". Died at age 27. Found dead in his bathtub. However, it is uncertain whether it was due to drug overdose or a case of murder.

9. Kurt Cobain - Lead singer of "Nirvana". Killed himself with a shotgun at age of 27.

10. Michael Jackson - At the age of 50, suffered cardiac arrest due to overdose of propofol - an intravenous hypnotic agent he had been using for getting sleeps.

11. Cliff Burton - Bassist of "Metallica". Died aged just 24 when Metallica's tour bus met with an accident.

12. Bon Scott - Lead singer for band AC/DC, died at the age of 33 due to heavy drinking.

13. Bob Marley - Died due to skin cancer at the age of 36.

14. Dave Williams - Lead singer of the Alternative Rock band "Drowning Pool" died due to a heart disease at the age of 30.

15. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines - Lead vocalist, guitarist and backup singer respectively of the American rock band "Lynyrd Skynyrd", all died in a plane crash. They were 29, 28 and 29 respectively.

16. Tommy Bolin - Guitarist for "Deep Purple". Died aged 25 because of drug overdose.

17. Elvis Presley - Died aged 42 due to continuous abuse of prescription drugs.

18. Hillel Slovak - Guitarist and founding member of "Red Hot Chilli Peppers". Died at the age of 26 due to heroin addiction.

19. Paul Gray - Bassist for band "Slipknot". Died aged 38 due to accidental overdose of morphine.

20. Freddie Mercury - Lead singer of "Queen", died at 45 due to Aids.

21. Randy Rhoads - The guitarist died in an airplane crash when he was just 25.

22. Amy Winehouse - Died at an age of 27 due to reasons which are still to be explained.

The list doesn't end here. These are the musicians that came to my mind instantly. If you refer the Google, you may find scores of more musicians. If you know any other musician whom I have missed out, and who makes to this list, please put his / her name in the comments.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can corruption be voted out?

The events during past week have united the nation. Or so we perceive.

During past week, what I have personally observed is that a big divide has emerged out in the society. There are majority of those who support Anna Hazare and the Jan Lokpal Bill, either knowing or without knowing the salient features of the proposed bill. And then there are those who do not support Hazare and the bill, and rather have one of the following beliefs -
1. We have voted for this government, so we have to bear with the corruption.
2. The correct way to eradicate corruption is to cast your vote.
3. Choose the correct candidate while voting.
4. The proposed Jan Lokpal Bill is faulty.
5. Going on indefinite fast is a form of blackmail.
6. If we too, as individual citizens are corrupt, why blame the government?

I'll be honest to say that I am not one of the most well-informed citizens in India. However, I am still aware of what is going on in the nation under the present government. There have been so many scams that have surfaced, and which have actually caused a great loss to the nation, both on the national prestige as well as on an economic front. So when the news of Anna Hazare going on indefinite fast erupted, rather than jumping straight to any conclusions (like several others), I decided to first of all understand the Jan Lokpal bill and its salient features. I was lucky to find a complete copy of the bill in MS Word format (, and went through the complete document. Also went through the history of the proposed Lokpal (, and only after that did I come out in support of Anna Hazare.

Since we are the biggest democracy in the world, the six questions above seem to be reasonable on first looks. After all, this government was selected by us, the citizens of India. Then why are we complaining? And if we are complaining, then why did we elect this corrupt government? We should let the government decide what bill needs to be proposed rather than individuals from civic society coming up with a bill.

However, if we think with a broad mind, all these questions, which initially may sound reasonable, can be answered. And I'll try to answer these based on what I personally believe.

1. We have voted for this government, so we have to bear with the corruption. 
We vote for a party based on  the agenda it presents, and the promises it makes. No party says that it is going to be involved in acts of corruption, if chosen to form a government. Besides, if the voters by mistake, or due to lack of information choose the wrong party to form the government, does it mean that the government must be allowed to suck the blood of the people and of the nation and national resources for complete 5 years? Shouldn't people be allowed to accept their mistakes, and subsequently make amendments? Why let the nation get punished for 5 years for the inadvertent mistake of voters during election?

2. The correct way to eradicate corruption is to cast your vote.
Voting to elect the rightful people is indeed very important. But can voting really wipe out the corruption that exists in India today? In one of her tweets today, Ms Barkha Dutt suggested that poor voter turnout in 2009 elections is the actual cause of corrupt people being selected to form the government. In argument to this statement, I would like to present some statistics - The voters turnout in India during 2009 Indian General Elections was 59.7%. Whereas, the turnout percentage of voters in United Kingdom was 61% in 2005, and 65% in 2010 General elections. If we compare our figures with those of UK, which also is a multi party democracy, there is not a very significant difference. However, on the Corruption Perception Index, UK stands much above India in rankings ( This only proves that there is no significant relationship between corruption and voters turnout during elections.

3. Choose the correct candidate while voting. 
Again, as I explained in point 1 above, no electoral candidate mentions in his political agenda that he will rob the country. In such a case, where each and every candidate is making promises for betterment of nation, who would a citizen choose to be his leader? For instance, consider the following options -
    I. A man who has history of creating communal disturbances?
   II. A man who supports a communist party?
  III. A lady who likes being presented on her birthday with garlands made up of a million Rupees in cash?
  IV. A man who pioneered the economic reforms in the nation, and who has no history of being corrupt?
The answer is obvious. Anybody would believe that option IV is the best option to choose. But did it prove to be? If the leader of a government is honest, does that mean that everybody in his government would be honest? Consider Mr A. Raja, for instance. Did he have any history of being involved in acts of corruption when he was elected in 2009?
Lokpal Bill first came into light in year 1971, as a means to fight corruption in the nation. Since then, several political parties have formed the government at centre, but still nothing has come out of the bill, except being rejected every time it is proposed in the parliament. If we select another government at centre the next time, what is the surety that any bill to fight against corruption would be passed?

4. The proposed Jan Lokpal Bill is faulty. 
Okay, there might be faults in Jan Lokpal Bill. But shouldn't the bill have been passed long ago in its original form, or after incorporating whatever amendments were suggested in either of the parliamentary sessions in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008? If the bill is being rejected every time in parliament, and levels of corruption are rising with time, wouldn't responsible citizens of nation be forced to create their own version of bill, absolving the politicians from any kind of power? And if there are faults in Jan Lokpal bill, shouldn't the government have had a dialogue with the people who drafted it when asked to in March, and suggested some constructive improvements and amendments into it?

5. Going on indefinite fast is a form of blackmail. 
Anna Hazare didn't go on indefinite fast straight from the day this bill was drafted. A copy of Jan Lokpal Bill was sent to the PM, but still there was no response to this. Representatives of India Against Corruption had been meeting various Ministers seeking their support for the Jan Lokpal Bill, but those ministers too didn't show any seriousness towards the cause (as per Hazare's letter to the PM - And subsequently, to appease everybody, the government came up with their own version of bill, wherein all the power stayed with the politicians. Anna Hazare went on a fast as long as four months after the draft copy of Jan Lokpal bill was sent to PM and various ministers without getting a subsequent response from them. Besides sending the copy of proposed bill, there were several other letters highlighting the inadequate handling of corruption charges, sent to the PM and Mrs Sonia Gandhi. These can be found here -
Yes, going on indefinite fast is a form of blackmail, but in this case, the fight for the bill didn't start straightaway with an indefinite fast. When there was a need for dialogue, it didn't happen, and that left Anna Hazare with no other option.

6. If we too, as individual citizens are corrupt, why blame the government? 
This is the most debatable of the six questions above. And here I would try to establish the reason why I feel majority of people in the nation are corrupt (including you and me). You may say that being Indians, we have an inherent tendency to be corrupt. I would strongly disagree with this. Consider the example of Singapore. People of Chinese and Indian descent form majority of population there. Both China and India stand very low on Corruption Perception index. Yet Singapore is considered to be the least corrupt country in world, as per this index. Majority of Indians who go overseas follow the law of the nation they are in.
There is an adage in Hindi which goes as, "Kharbooza kharbooze ko dekh kar hi rang pakadta hai." This means that if there is a person around you who is involved in some sort of misdeed, chances are that you too are going to take his example and start practising the same sooner or later. For instance, people in India are very impatient, and don't like standing in queues. However, we, the very same Indians, when in a country like UK, can be the most patient people around. We quietly stand in queues, waiting for our turn without being frustrated at all. I have been to UK and I say so based on my own personal experience.

If I see a traffic police cop asking me for a bribe, I say to myself, "If servants of nation are making money, why shouldn't I do it, however unethical it may be". When the traffic policeman sees police commissioner taking bribe, he says "Oh what the heck!!! I too shall take bribes." When Police commissioner sees the local MLA being corrupt, he too stops worrying about what is right or wrong. When an MLA or an MP sees the Chief Ministers or Cabinet Ministers being corrupt, he thinks why should I be left behind. The problem is that corruption percolates down from top to bottom. And sideways as well. And it is almost impossible to imagine that everyone can be corrected based on some kind of motivational talk that would waken up the moral values of individuals. Corruption is so deep embedded in our system that nobody will wake up by his call of conscience. Unless there is a fear of being punished if found to be guilty. And the proposed Lokpal is the means to inculcate that fear. Once the levels of corruption start falling in our society, I personally believe that this fall would be exponential in nature. All we need is just a push.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Peepli [Dies], Udaan Flies

I feel sad. Sad to the core. The 83rd Academy Award nominations are out.

Around four months back, I had the pleasure of watching one marvellous movie. A movie made with heart. A movie that didn't have any pretensions attached with it. A movie that didn't try to teach anything or send out any message to its viewers. A movie that was made not for bagging any award, either the Filmfare or the Oscar. A movie whose motive was not to end up being a blockbuster or be a super hit among the masses. The sole purpose of that movie was to fulfil one's desire to create something that is close to one's heart. To bring forth to audience something that one feels, rather than something that audience want to feel.

I am talking about "Udaan", and about its drector, Vikramaditya Motwane. I would rate it as the best movie to come out of Bollywood last year and perhaps in a long long time. Infact, it was one of the best movies to have been released in 2010 all across the globe. And IMDB acknowledges this by rating it as the 6th best movie of 2010.

I was hoping badly that some common sense would prevail, and "Udaan" would be chosen as India's official entry for 83rd Academy Awards by Film Federation of India. Alas!!! It wasn't to happen. "Udaan" lost to Aamir Khan's production "Peepli Live". And as I had expected earlier, "Peepli Live" eventually didnt make it to the final five.

Nothing personal against "Peepli Live" or Aamir Khan. I think that it is an excellent movie in parts. Yes, in parts. Credit needs to be given where it is due. Considering that "Peepli Live" is the directorial debut for Anusha Rizvi, she carried out a splendid job. The portrayal of the village in which the story evolves, the whole concept, the inital hour or so, and the last two scenes are the high points of the movie. Especially the final two scenes - the one where protagonist's brother and wife are sitting outside their home, and the one where the protagonist is working at a construction site in the city, and finally sits down for rest. The silence speaks so much in these two scenes. The end is left open for the viewers to perceive on their own whether its a sad one or happy.

However, what I hated about the movie was the humour that went too much over the top at times. In the name of satire, the filmmakers tried to indulge into too much mockery of the news media. Consider for example the scene where one of the newspersons is shown capturing the footage of the spot where the subject was last seen excreting. Such humour, I am guessing, was added only to ensure that the movie doesn't miss out because of lack of slapstick. I would have preferred all the humour in "Peepli Live" to be subtle rather than this loud, and ultimately falling to such below par standards. I feel that "Peepli Live" is a movie that has been made not with heart, but with an "Oscar aspiring" mind, and with an eye on the Box Office.

"Udaan", au contraire, was a movie that had enough content in it to give in easily to the melodrama. But, it did not. It stayed mellow throughout. The movie is full of moments that a viewer would savour forever. Moments such as the silence between the two friends in the woods broken only by poetry. Or the scene where the protagonist is shown dragging his heavy trunk upstairs, mildly giving suggestions to the audience how his life is going to be an uphill climb during the course of the movie. Or the scene where he takes out all his anger on the car. Under normal circumstances, a person who has frustration and rage building up inside of him would need a good friend to speak it out. And if he has nobody close enough to speak to, what else can one do to let out his frustration? Each and every minor detail in "Udaan" represents something bigger. For instance, the old Contessa that the protagonist's father possesses represents his old and outdated beliefs, and his pretence. His morning jogs, black sunglasses, smoking and drinking as a false belief of being a toughie.

Another good thing about the direction was the perfect placement of background score throughout the movie. For instance, the scenes I have described above have not been marred by a background score being played. Silence in these scenes, or the presence of only the sounds like trunk being dragged or window panes being broken is what makes these moments so pleasant and natural. And then there are scenes like college-style banter with the newly made friends, or narrating a story in the hospital, which could have easily been the areas where director had the option to make the dialogue or the monologue much more clearer, so as to make the regular audience laugh or to hear a complete story from the narrator respectively. However, the director rather added loud background music in these two situations, which made the conversations inaudible. Yet the music and the inaudibility of these conversations served their purpose pretty well. The director wanted us not to laugh at the banter, but rather to feel happy on seeing the protagonist laughing himself at that moment. The director didn't want us to hear the complete story being narrated at the hospital, but rather to experience his good knack of story-telling that made several people (a kid, old patients, young patients, nurses, doctors) listen keenly to him. These are the subtle things which mark the difference between a good movie and a great movie. You don't need to shout out loud to tell what you want to tell.

When I compare "Udaan" to "Peepli Live", I can definitely say that it had far more chances of reaching the final cut in the Oscars, as compared to the latter, had it been chosen. I am still unsure why the latter was preferred. Was it Aamir Khan's old experience at Oscars that tempted Film Federation of India to send another Aamir Khan movie to the Oscars his year, hoping that this time he would do what he couldn't in 2001. Or was it due to the misconception we have that anything that displays Indian villages and poverty has a greater chance to win abroad. Whatever it be, none of them could take "Peepli Live" to the final five.

PS: Came to know today that "Udaan" won several awards in India in most prestigious categories. If Filmfare and Star Screen awards can acknowledge the movie, why can't Film Federation of India?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

YouTube killed the

And today again my Facebook homepage is swarming with plethora of videos. Gosh!!! Some of the videos are those that I've already watched. While some are those that were there a couple of days back, and I skipped watching them after reading their titles, which probably comprised of any of the following combinations of words -

1. Girls are girls
2. Men are men
3. Boys will be boys
4. Best video ever
5. Must watch
6. Cute kid
7. Sheila ki jawani
8. Sheila ki jawani - Chipmunks version

Nothing against these videos. These videos are in fact creative works from creative people. However, the problem is that they are present everywhere on facebook. And all the time. I login to Facebook to check out my friends' updates, but instead see the same video being shared by atleast 10 friends of mine. The good thing about facebook is that a single video appears only a single time on the page on a single day, irrespective of it  being shared by multiple friends. However, the bad thing is that I see the same video again next time I login that evening. And again next day. And day after that.

These videos have become part of my daily routine now. Seeing them lined up in my friends updates, and ignoring them, has now become a habit. And on a usual occasion, I wouldn't spend any time either watching them, or writing about them. What forced me, however, to write on this topic today is that while I was going through the regular practice of ignoring the videos on my FB home page, one video suddenly caught my eye. It was one of my favourite youtube videos that was today shared by a friend. I had seen this video around a year back for the first time, and today when I saw it on my FB home page, I immediately clicked on it to view it again. The God-damn slow internet speed didn't help much to the cause, but the wait was worth it.

And the video motivated me to come up with a list of my favorite videos on Youtube. I had never ever given it a thought earlier as to which are my favorite videos. And I was thinking that it would probably take hours to come up with the list. How wrong I was. Took me just 5 minutes approx to do so.

So here are the Youtube videos that currently stand at the top 20 positions in my list -

20. 3D Light Show - Art Projection Ukraine ( very interesting )
I saw this video for the first time some 3-4 months back on facebook, where some friend of mine had shared it. And boy!!! What an amazing display of laser lights it is. I have seen some very good laser shows live. However, none of them is even 1% as good as this one.

19. DRUMMER AT WRONG GIG- better view
Everytime I watch this video, I am captivated by this drummer cum juggler. And although he is no Neil Peart or John Bonham, and is playing a very basic 4/4 time signature, yet his act is totally awesome.

18. Robbie Maddison's 2008 New Year's Eve jump
Now this is one thing that needs guts to do. Whether you are a professional stuntman or not. It really amazes me how one finds the motivation to risk his life to perform such an act.

17. Crazy Soccer Ball Juggling
A perfect act of balancing - not only the ball, but also his own weight from falling down off the place where he is dancing.

16. Evolution of Dance - By Judson Laipply
Every time I watch this video, I end up laughing like anything. Especially when he dances to "Cant Touch This".

15. Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years.
What an effort? Would anyone have enough patience to take a picture of oneself each day continuously for 6 years? Not me. Well I haven't clicked any photo of mine since past 1.5 years almost  (Dont even have a single pic of myself to prove that I had grown my hair for almost 9 months in case somebody asks for it).

14. Freestyle Dance Performance (Korea:PREPIX)
I have seen several groups' amazing dance performances on the internet. JabbaWockeez for instance. And also seen some individual break dance performances. However, none of them has been as good as this one. The coordination amongst the crew is mind-boggling.

13. Where the Hell Is Matt? (2008)
And this is the video that a friend of mine shared this morning, that inspired me to write this stuff. The whole concept of this video is so heart warming. And some of the footage in this video is so very well captured that it leaves you enchanted. And yes, he is the same guy who was hired by Visa in their Travel Happy advertising campaign.

12. Women's 4x400 relay - CWG - 2010 - Delhi - India wins Gold
What a proud moment it was for all the Indians. One of the biggest achievements in the field of athletics for India. This video still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.

11. Yuto Miyazawa and Ozzy
The youngest professional guitarist. He is just 10 years old at present, yet he plays at par with some of the best guitarists around. And look at his expressions when he meets his idol at the end.

10. OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg Machine version - Official
OK Go is a rock band which has been famous not because of their music, but because of their innovative videos. "Here it goes again" is the video that brought them fame. And since then there has been no stopping. And this particular song has got two versions, one featuring a marching band, which again is quite an impressive video. However, this Rube Goldberg machine version is beyond doubt, one of the best videos I have ever seen on Youtube. Parts of the machine are synchronized in time with the music. Water glasses creating the melody for instance.

9. Charlie bit my finger - again !
And here is the video that started the kidsomania on YouTube. And this is the video that, probably, made Youtube what it is now. The total number of views for this video speak for themselves.

8. Für Elise on guitar (full version!)
There are atleast a hundred videos on YouTube that I like that feature guitar or piano cover versions of songs. And some of them would have easily filled at least 10 out of 20 spots in this list. However, while writing this post, I had decided not to include any of them, else the list would have become quite boring for the reader.
However, I could not prevent myself from adding this video to the list. This is the best version of Fur Elise that one will ever hear on guitar. The song was composed to be played on piano by Beethoven. And it is not so easy to create a guitar rendition for complete song. However, this guy has done an excellent job in doing so.

7. OK Go - White Knuckles - Official Video
OK Go again, this time with another wonderful video. This one features not only the humans performing schematically designed activities, but dogs as well. How they pulled off this awesome video is a question not easy to answer.

6. Auto-Tune the News #2: pirates. drugs. gay marriage
So Its not only Justin Bieber and Kanye West who use Auto-tune to get melodies out of their throats. Even the random news broadcasts can also be turned into music. And The Gregory Brothers have done a fantastic job in turning monotonous news into cheerful parodies.

5. We No Speak Americano ft. Cleary & Harding
Saw this video for the first time in the TIME magazine RSS feed that I have subscribed to. And whether someone speaks Americano or not, he/she is bound to be enthralled by this amazing dance of fingers and hands.

4. Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
The longest video that I have seen fully on YouTube. And there is no reason not to see it. It is one of the most inspirational lectures you'll ever hear. And if you don't feel motivated to do something about your dreams after watching this, then I doubt that anything else would be able to motivate you.

3. JK Wedding Entrance Dance
I have already seen this video at least 50 times. And I can see it another 1000 times. This video kinda brings Indianness to a Christian wedding. Just love the concept. Hats off to the bride for this idea of hers.

2. Christian the lion - Full ending
Do wild ones have heart? Or are they solely governed by the hunter-prey relationship? This video answers the question.

1. Wingsuit Base Jumping
And finally I come to the video I like the most on YouTube. Its a sheer display of human urge to achieve the impossible. To dare to do something that only birds can do. And these men want to go beyond the permissible limits. They want to learn flying in open skies. And once they are good at that, they wanna fly just feets above the ground.