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‘UDAAN’ of Parallel Cinema, and Parallel Careers

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“O memories mine, pieces of reminiscence that art gone,

A touch, thy sense still prevails,

On the timeless grounds from life to death I walk,

That I feel not for the barefoot me, for I ail.”

….my translation of a verse from the 2010 film ‘Udaan’, written and directed by Vikramaditya Motwani.

Why Udaan? I asked myself. Why not? I replied. I have watched it 47 times already and the 47th instance being a recent one, 10th Feb, 2013 post-midterm.

The film has been an integral part of my movie-studying experience since its release in 2010. Though it was a flop show at the box office, grabbing a meager 3 crore in its lifetime, it did include itself into the lives of a handful of those that value the script part of a film more than the industry numbers.

A young, rebellious Rohan amidst his desire for creative possibilities and his nettlesome choler for the one person in his life, he comes across as his ‘father’, forms the crux of this artistic workmanship from Vikram Motwani.

A countable number of filmmakers in India have tried to weave a story around a strained ‘father-son’ relationship. The Elizabeth fame crossed-over director Shekhar Kapur and his Masoom is worthy of a mention.

What is it that makes Udaan strike differently than others? Whilst I was digging for an answer since 2010 – read the script and watch the movie; read the script, watch the movie again – repeating this exercise 47 times to this day, I found myself attending a talk by the ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar during MANFEST 2013.

Risks or risk-averse MBAs, nose-browning or individualism, creativity or run of the mill – could form the list of keywords plucked from his talk. It hardly took any time for me to correlate Mr. Kakkar’s dysphemistic conveyance to Udaan’s standout appeal.

Vikram Motwani’s attempt at a simplistic play of scenes – be it the father-son jogging schedule to portray their mental rift; be it Rohan’s puerile yet assuasive poetry narration to his benumbed school friend or the innocence in Arjun’s (stepbrother) day-to-day actions – is rarely epitomized in Indian film arena. A Risk. Individualistic? Yes, and without any nose-browning to adhere to the precedents. Left a mark? Ofcourse.

So, is “run-of-the-mill” (in cinema or in careers) now an overrated cliché??? Or is it still your way of life?? Hasn’t individualism hit you yet??

The answers and the interpretation to this abstract write-up are left to the readers.

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TALAASH 2 – Pilot Script

“TALAASH 2 – The Answer lies in the City”

(Pilot Script)

By – Rahul Nilangekar

 

ANUJ BAJPAI

“The best way to predict the future is to create it!”

He smirked, glorifying himself aloud for his wife in the SUV.

Roads of South Mumbai, past 2am, are a nefarious tale stitched up by the soothing lonely silence around; accompanied only by a crimp of breeze, subtly cooled by the sea.

Anuj Bajpai was aware. He wheeled the Hummer zipping past the Bademiyan corner (a famous South Mumbai spot for nocturnals) on the Colaba Causeway at a breakneck pace.

Happiness had hit him after a long stretch of clamber – A career strike that he had always dreamt of right from the hellbound days at the Premier Institute of Management to his stint at McKinsey & Co. He was, finally, made a partner in the firm.

Unvanquishable. He felt it. Perfectly.

 

CUT TO (INT.): Colaba Police Station, Mumbai

V.O

Tambey, tii Red-Light waali file

gheun ya zara

(read – Tambey, bring the Red-Light file)”

Devrath Kulkarni was queasy.

The recent streak of raids and sting operations under his supervision, unearthing prostitution rackets veiled under business conferences and commercial events in and around the city, had parented an unending stir everywhere – much to the dismay of the top brass of Maharashtra Police, the politicians and a few corporate gaffers alike.

Atmaram Tambey, with his belt barely gibing his corrupt paunch, arrived at Kulkarni’s table.

DEVRATH KULKARNI

“Imagine someone sitting on a pile of

grenades waiting to be exploded.

That’s how I am feeling right now!”

Kulkarni was on the verge of a breakdown.

Tambey was not expected to respond. He did not. Though his thoughts ran unrestrained relating the situation with that of an ex-policeman from the past. Tambey was a knavish man.

DEVRATH KULKARNI

“I am wondering what

Shekhawat sir would have done.”

Kulkarni had always considered himself a protégé of Surjan Singh Shekhawat (a.k.a Suri), a voluntarily-retired ex-cop. The last case they had worked together had turned out a mishap for Suri, juddering his mental state. Post the closure of this presumably “A Final” case, the superiors in the department had questioned Suri’s ability to discern reality from fabrication. Suri had remained silent and had tacitly accepted to retire immediately. On his own accord.

Kulkarni was ambitious and agile but lacked his mentor’s righteousness. His nimbleness, though, had earned him the control of Colaba police station after Shekhawat’s departure.

TAMBEY

Sahib, Shekhawat sir hotey toh ye case bhi

aatmao se hi solve karwatey!

(read – Shekhawat sir would have come up with

some supernatural angle to this case as well!)”

Tambey giggled and left the room.

 

CUT TO (EXT.): Lamington Road, Mumbai

The dreary night bosomed the river of dark seedy smoke as KHANGRA puffed a chillum, resting himself against the steel-rimmed frigid bus-stop bench. No work nor intentions of doing any.

Khangra was one of the many unwitting outcomes of the Dongri Remand Home in Mumbai (police-run minor/children remand home). Born in Saikhul, in Churachanpur district of Manipur and parented by two jhum field workers, he found his way to Mumbai and then to Dongri Remand Home at an early age. An incisive larcenist in the books of Mumbai Police, he had an uncanny ability to be thoroughly shrewd in most of his off-colour jobs. Yet, like every other crook, he was foolishly impatient with his dream of that ‘one last big-score’ in Mumbai.

Khangra’s dreamless slumber turned a short-lived one interrupted by his gaudily loud mobile ringtone.

“Hello” he answered.

“Chillar…”

“Hmmm” he answered again, aptly recognizing his informant Chillar – a 12 year old waiter at a tea stall in the area.

“There’s a Hummer. MH-02-MC-1111. Abandoned. Check it out! ”

As hastily as he could, Khangra covered his distance canvassing the Lamington Road and each and every alleyway leading to it. He had walked for a couple of miles when his eyes rolled over a black Hummer parked just beside the NO-PARKING zone. He went for the door. Unlocked. He started searching the interiors and found a blue Nike bag full of mid-sized packets.

“Coke..its coke!” he assured himself as he sniffed a pinch of the substance packeted in the bag.

FADE IN (INT.): Morning. Bajpai residence, Juhu

“I don’t remember anything from last night. Do you? How did we get back home?” Anuj was trying hard to make sense of things. His wife was numb.

“I think…” she paused. Her eyes were grievous. “They molested me! All of them.” Her numbness cracked open with a drop of tear casting over her bruised cheek.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Long-distance Relationship, from Lucknow

‘All the characters, incidents and places in this article are fictitious. Resemblance to any person living or dead or any incident or place is purely coincidental.’ 

——————————————————————————————————————————————–

“What are Adjustment Entries? Anyone?” The professor pricked the aura of silence in the class.

A class filled with vacuous stares of poor engineers, with an exception of a delighted, bright soul.

Shilpa answered the question in a sharpest possible way and right at that moment, a single thought punched the entire class –“a FRA lecture from Shilpa!”

But, one not-so-bright soul, seated right behind Shilpa, was delighted too. For reasons unknown.

FLASHBACK

“Hello.”

“Hi. It’s me.” It was Piya.

“Hey, I am busy with something. Can I call you back?”

“Sure.” The response from Piya was timid and the ‘sure’ did taste a bit acrid. But, it was definitely better than a war cry.

[For all those who cannot make out a story without the ‘character introduction’ part, let me do the honours.

Piya is a girl. And Rahul is a boy. (That forms the shrewdest introduction that I have ever

written :P)  Sarcasm apart, let me rephrase it.

Piya, from the story, is a blood-sucking vampire. And Rahul, from the story, as she feels, is her prey for life. (Ah!  Writers should avoid being extremely histrionic. That’s a sign of bad writing)]

The war had just been delayed for better or worse.

Amidst the CV submissions and MM-I project group discussions, it turned 3 am in the morning. ‘Devil’s hour’ as they call it. And, the devil did call.

“Hello” I answered the call.

“What are you doing?” Piya whipped the question directly from Mumbai.

“FRA. There’s a quiz tomorrow.” I replied miserably.

“You know whenever I talk to you these days, I feel as if I am reading Economic Times. You, with all your FRAs and MMs and BIOs and ITCs and hell…It all sounds like reading some GDP forecast!”

For all the ignorant minds, let me make it clear – this is how a ‘Phd in Psychology’ girlfriend sounds like. She always thinks of herself as being the master of all trades.

“Can I call you back, Piya? I am in the middle of something.” I turned insipid.

I had other important things to deal with.

“Can I call you back???” Piya repeated annoyingly. “You broken piece of record. Don’t call me back.” And she cut the call.

Without giving it a second thought, I got back to the GDP forecasting (:P how foolish was that!!) – I mean I divulged myself into FRA.

A few days and nights passed by. It was a time when weekend din’t seem like one. Not that I was into the pain of longing for Piya. The CV iterations were my first priority.  Piya was last. How could I violate the typical shrewd-boyfriend protocol! (The protocol is prevalent in most parts of Mumbai.)

However, during this period, I did research about LDR (read Long-distance Relationships).

And as the MM-I effect would have it, I came across the 3Cs of managing a LDR – Communication, Commitment and Clear preference. I just had to start with a CP sheet and come up with a working strategy. : )

But before that, during one night at the Devil’s hour (how could she miss that time! It suited her), I picked up her call.

“Hello.” I muttered, half asleep.

“What are you wearing?”

What in God’s name was that? Din’t seem like a conversation-starter question at all.

“It’s been just an hour since I slept. I have a BIO presentation tomorrow.” I muttered again.

“What are you wearing?” The voice, now sensual, repeated.

I had to reply. Though in the form of a mutter.

“I am wearing a black business suit. It’s the most comforting thing to wear in bed. You should try it sometimes…hmmm” And the phone fell off my hand as I dived deep in dreamless slumber.

And, the next day, one more not-so-bright soul, was delighted too. It was his Independence Day, for he was sure that the devil won’t return again!

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Categories: Story, Uncategorized

Mumbai Dreams – Part I



The abnormalities of Mumbai beseem this unduly congested city, thought the man sitting on a bench at the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly known as Victoria Terminus). The usually blatant railway station in Mumbai had chosen to remain silent for the past ten minutes.

    For the man.
    No clanking of trains. No timely announcements. No buzzing of the daily commuters. No creaky chaiwallas (kids carrying kettleful of tea, with tiny hands holding a balancing tower of paper-cups, short flaccid steps paving their way through coarse men and numb women). SILENCE.

The searing heat of Mumbai summers, blatantly known for drenching the ambitious dwellers in sudor, and the exploiting trait of Mumbai television industry, represented by a handful of superstitious and mine run production ventures, had exacerbated his woes. For he, a fledgling scriptwriter in his early twenties, had been at work for the entire summer day battling for opportunities to earn his share of write up in a screenplay for a television sitcom.

“You better be good this time with your write up. Ektaji wants a perforating episode to be telecasted tonight. It will be shown to viewers with the title suggested by Ektaji – ‘Pavitra Rishta Mahaepisode’ (‘Virtuous Relations Grand Episode’).” 
The director had conveyed emphasizing the title, with his hands mimicking a hoarding in space. Typical gestures of a motion picture director.

“Do put some extra rancour amidst the lead pair. Also, we can have a few scenes by killing the protagonist’s brother. We need some heavily emotional glycerine scenes” The director had added in a holistic tone.

“Rahul, you better be good this time.”

The director’s warning cry before disappearing for his lunch had sounded  more restraining than encouraging.

The offstage grimace of this neophyte writer in the television scripting arena had been appalling lately. The Mumbai television industry churns out a superfluity of sitcoms that straddle the limited creative content written on the foundations of romance and the household spurts of epithets between monster-in-laws. A winning formula followed by most of the industry pundits. For a writer, it was callously implied to adhere to these norms and avoid traversing any untouched aspect of story-telling. By the book.

The writer’s afternoon had been weary. Plot Designing. Character Segregation. First Draft. And no time for lunch.

The first draft had turned into an exact portray of his director’s plain unembellished suggestions. Although a smearing touch of finesse to the characters, their behavioral convention was a much needed ingredient to the story, the writer had been reluctant towards it. He was fearful of taking this stride that could annoy Ekta and her accomplices and cost him his chance of writing for this sitcom.

“Better to be a regular writer with a job, money than trying to be an Artificer, a Craftsman and be a cast away.”  He had considered.

Eventually, the draft script had moved up the ladder.

It is presumptively inconceivable to decrypt the pattern in which scripts are reviewed in this television industry. A task that can let down even a gallant writer.

“This is not the way I wanted it to be. It lacks the emotional punch. Raw. It has the elements I had told to include. But its not commercial.You don’t understand what I’m saying!”  The director turned into a confounded philosopher with the first-draft script in his hands.

The lead character being sad about his brother’s demise resorts to cursing people around him, delivers over-the-top dialogues. Squalling.

“This blizzard display of perceptible emotional chaos is commercial. This is what you mean a**” The writer had not been able to put forth his understanding of the situation and his paradoxical opinion on it.

Second draft was assigned to another writer with traditional writing sensibilities.

Disdain.

The writer had perceived this doom as an opportunity to search for work that is originative and doesn’t bind his liberal want for contentment. He’d called a few of his busy ghost-writer friends and inquired about any need of an adjunct to share their burden of work. No Respite.

He’d received a call from one of his acquaintance and, with no halcyon choice at hand, had consented the offer to work as a second-level production assistant for the finale episode of the Indian counterpart of American Idol. The shoot was scheduled to commence at 2:00 am at a nearby film studio.

With two barren hours on his hands, he had taken shelter on a bench at the Terminus.