Chandni. Forever.

Sridevi’s demise marks an an end to a celebrated era of woman talent and perseverance.

One of those mercurial and prodigious actors who was able to transcend boundaries successfully and with so much grace, Sridevi used her strong foundation from Tamil films to foray in to Hindi cinema and was able to hone her way through with panache.

The transition was hard work, transformation was stunning. From the next-door-girl image down South, Sridevi became the undisputed queen of Bollywood.

And, fearlessly, she never looked back.

My ‘Sridevi’ moments are many, but I will review few performances that totally, completely defined the legend of ‘Sridevi’ and which will tell us in abundance, the reason for bestowing the tag of ‘First Woman Superstar’ over this leading lady.

Sridevi Ma’am, you were born for Cinema. You will be missed.

Varumayin Niram Sigappu

A KB film, she was cast along with a young and talented Kamal Haasan. Despite big names along side her, she holds her own in a sublime and hard hitting script. Early glimpses of an emerging star.

16 Vayadhinile

Another memorable classic from Bharathiraja, a very young Sridevi is pitted against Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth (a rank newcomer then). Set in the rural backdrop with simplicity being the biggest whistle blower, Sridevi has her own space as a shy, resplendent and brave girl who manages to survive in a male dominated society.

Moonram Pirai/Sadma

Sridevi’s powerhouse performance as a girl suffering from retrograde amnesia who fights off a battle that remains one of it’s kind in Indian Cinema. She matched Kamal Haasan in every frame, and remains one of her finest in this Balu Mahendra classic.


1 wasn’t enthralling enough, we had 2. Sridevi’s knock out performance in this entertainer was a testimony to her comic skills. In the presence of heavyweights like Sunny Deol and Rajnikanth, she held her own in a roller coaster role that elevated her to a commercial status.

Mr. India

We remember this classic for ‘Mogambo’ but Sridevi was the other icon of this film despite Anil Kapoor being the lead. Her stupendous energy and those sensual moves in ‘Rate Nahin Katthe’ are some brilliant Sridevi moments in this classic. A superstar is here to stay.


Who can forget Sridevi in the white silk chiffon, laden by snow mountains in the Alps?

‘King of Romance’ meets ‘Queen of Hearts’. Sridevi became the quintessential goddess of Yash Chopra and ‘Chandni’ established her as the numero uno in the industry.


A film much ahead of its time, this Yash Chopra classic was another feather in Sridevi’s hat. A dual role, Sridevi was top notch as mother and daughter. Again, in the presence of a formidable Anil Kapoor, Lamhe was a Sridevi film.

9/11. Change-versary.

Yes. We changed. World changed. Everything else around changed. In fact, I have bleak memories of how this world looked before the apocalypse.

Our outlook to America, our attitude towards terrorism (we now call it global post 9/11), our stand as global nations against one unified enemy. All this changed. And somewhere, it changed us and the way we live. I call it, the ways of our enigmatic life.

9/11 also opened up the floodgates for more violence, hatred and counter terrorism (perhaps, it ended up being counter hatred). Post 9/11 saw undisputed destruction of human lives. Some alive but still dead. It isn’t the number of years, it was those crucifying moments that nailed it. In real terms, that is.

We celebrated the fall of the Satan, but nothing stopped. In fact, it has multiplied. If the world has become a unified household, the anti has become 6-fold, perhaps 10-fold. Not that calamities and torture has stopped or minimalised since 9/11. We have grown monumentally, sadly.

We will continue to fight the demons, within and outside. For how long? May be the question isn’t – for how long. The question is, how far?

70 Years of ‘Bharat’

We have come a long way, we have a long way to go. Every country goes through turbulence, so have we. Every country has its moments, we have had our own. Every country has a vision, we have ours. No country is perfect, the flaws exude beauty of renaissance and evolution. We did, we do, we will. 

Jai Hind!

Mayavaram Paatti

For a very long time, I never realised the town had a different name. For me, it never mattered. It was her place of residence and that is all we knew during our growing up days. For us, it was enough. In fact, me and my sister never cared to know her name as well, for a very long time. Again, it doesn’t matter as names and relationships don’t always go hand in hand. Not for me, not for my sister either. She was our dear Granny, my mother’s mother and there lies the inherent respect that we derived and which deemed to exist forever.

We visited her and grandfather during our summer vacations, once in a couple of years. We lived far away but the connect was somewhere, ethereal to say the least. My grandfather was a reputed personality in the adjoining areas surrounding the town and widely respected. I and my sister used to be in awe of the palatial house they lived in and where my mother was born and raised. I am still in awe of that place, I don’t think we can afford to build a house like that in the city, even in today’s economical surge of possessions. The other day, I told my wife that the kitchen in the house used to be the size of our master bedroom, so it’s now easier for you to understand why we were so awe struck. She was the queen of the house and we all ran around like scattered pedestals from a garden of blooming flowers.

The house was perhaps the starting point for the current generation in our family that has grown up and is established in different parts of the world. Our cousins lived in different places and our visit was similar to a reunion – catch up, play pranks, have fun, irritate and disturb my grandfather’s afternoon siesta, and get the flak for it as well. But, nothing changed as our granny used to be at the back of us, supporting our trivial acts of childhood. All that and more, today belongs to the world of folklore.

I will never quote as being very close to her. Distance is one factor, second we did not belong to the classic generation where a spate of people lived under the same roof – grandparents, parents, cousins, relatives. But, the little moments spent with her during our early years will we etched as golden moments in our lives.

As we grow older, she grew old as well. Ironically, the sad part in the happiness of we growing up is the difficult episode of watching our parents growing old. Inevitable and excruciatingly believable, painful at the same time. She went through a similar phase, we lost our grandfather few years back which obviously was a big jolt in her life. From being the queen of independent living, I saw the transition that relegated her to the confines of four walls and very few people around her. Not that love diminished, it’s just that times were changing and she was part of the usual escapade.

With a life lived long enough to watch her children and grandchildren grow up and leading a fulfilling life, were indeed the high points of her illustrious life. Most significantly, her contribution is unsurpassable as we don’t exist if she doesn’t. A unhinged legacy.

Some people don’t leave us, they just distance themselves to keep vigil and see that we are safe. A mother is irreplaceable and her loss will be felt. As for her influence in our lives, time will make the statement at an apt hour of realisation (it does already!).


Paatti, please rest in peace and help us to remain blessed.

Om Puri – Submissive Legend

There are human beings with talent and proficiency, there are ordinary individuals who come out of their inhibitions and limitations to carve a niche for themselves in the tough gritty world of glorious pursuits. And then, we have actors like Om Puri.

Rugged face, turmoil expressions and a non fancy appeal. Yet, what stood behind was one of the finest that we could ever withdraw from. At a time when we shied away from what was called as ‘Parallel Cinema’, Om Puri made his mark with some iconic acts in films like Aakrosh and Ardh Satya. The latter, was a film ahead of its time. Attacking our system embroiled in corruption, bureaucracy and nepotism, Ardh Satya had some powerful performances from its lead actors – Om Puri, Smita Patil and Sadashiv Amrapukur. in fact, Om Puri had some memorable outings with landmark directors like Govind Nihalani and Satyajit Ray. Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was a film acknowledged as one of its kind that enjoys cult status today. In fact, associated actors with JBDY look at awe when this film features in the classic bandwagon. Om Puri played a typical modern opportunist and excelled in a small but crucial role. Another Nihalani favourite is Drohkaal, which saw Om Puri playing a cop who infiltrates with his team in to the web of a dangerous terrorist organisation. Nothing glamorous but Om Puri was a class apart.

Our generation has seen very little of Om Puri, which is quite unfortunate. His characters depicted on screen swayed magic and while our character actors always tend to get overshadowed in an industry that’s ruled by Superstars, actors like Om Puri held their own despite very little going for them in terms of roles, weightage and attention. Post 90s, he was one of the very few to cross boundaries juggle between Mumbai and the west in versatile and unconventional avatars. Interestingly, films like Ghayal, Chachi 420, Hera Pheri and Gupt made us realise how we bracketed and dumped a top notch mainstream actor in to a shell of meagre opportunities and ventures.

The world of cinema will not come to a standstill albeit outpourings of condolences but the industry just became poorer with the loss of a titan like Om Puri.

Jayalalithaa – Our Woman of Steel

I am not a political aficionado though am raised in 2 states that are considered to be the feather-bed for political potboilers. Yes, my affiliations are random and anything intriguingly watchable is my forte. But, if it’s about Jayalalithaa, then I will have the Pandora’s box open for numerous anecdotes.

Jayalalithaa was a combination of enigmatic qualities – talent, charismatic, gutsy, controversy child, courageous administrator, a power hungry leader who is obstinate, eccentric and autocratic. Yet, the love and respect that accentuated from people of Tamil Nadu clearly made a statement – she was the powerhouse behind AIADMK’s routing success amidst titanic rivalry.

The most impressive strata of Jayalalithaa’s resume was her impeccable transition from films to politics. Yes, she was a MGR protege all through but to have held her own in a man’s world amidst eyes of vengeance and ceasefire is a testimony to her character. After MGR’s death, Jayalalithaa and AIADMK were orphaned. The future looked bleak especially since the party divided between MGR’s family and Jayalalithaa. Stories of how she withered away a hostile AIADMK after MGR’s demise is a story to be read and told. The resolute and adamant could only have seen the storm off, and Jayalalithaa stood tall. She made AIADMK a force to reckon, with pleasant and unpleasant notes across acute political waters.

Jayalalithaa’s political avatar was no less animated and was plenty of drama. Tamil Nadu’s legacy of tentacle politics plus Jayalalithaa’s debonair made the cat fight even more interesting. She had her ups and downs but adjacently, her popularity soared.

A top notch actress in 60s and 70s, 28 films with the mercurial MGR and his greatest protege (personal and professional), heralded AIADMK flag after MGR’s unceremonious death, 6 terms as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, jailed for corruption and propaganda of wealth, her addictive and curious relationship with Sasikala Natarajan, spitting venom with DMK chieftain M Karunanidhi, undisputed political aura that eclipses a failed personal life, a lady of a single mind and self possessed persona. And, remember – her last successive victory in 2016 (first ever by AIADMK since MGR in 1984) just established her as the greatest messiah of the AIADMK clan.

My most visible moment of Jayalalithaa was her BBC interview with Karan Thapar. She battled fire with fire, provocative questions were brutally shot back, allegations were retorted with data and personal questions were dodged skillfully. “Chief Minister, it was a pleasure speaking to you today”, quipped Karan Thapar, extending himself to shake hands. “It was not a pleasure speaking to you today. Namaste”, Jayalalithaa responded.

Life moves on and so will AIADMK. There will be ruffled feathers but someone will take over the mantle albeit chaos. But the big shoes of Jayalalithaa will never be filled. And perhaps, AIADMK will miss the audacity of Amma.


hymn that blows you away

‘Kisi baat par main kisi se khafa hoon, main zinda hoon par zindagi se khafa hoon’.

The lyrics of mundane joy, a rendition that will stir your soul, the meaning that will wrench your veins, the inadequate fear that encapsulates the primal human being, an era that remains the home to divinity in the playback universe.

Kishore Kumar – you continue to conquer, then and today. Truly, Bemisaal. #classicnotes

nearer to you..

I kind of like the setting sun, goes down but not without achieving the nods and dangling a glimpse of the promise it holds for the next day. 

Life, learn. Days and nights. 

Truly, Rest in Peace..

My nerves shook when I read this story. A life never lived, this is probably one those painful stories which was never told or heard enough. Organically alive but dead as vegetable, a life destroyed by a dastardly act of vengeance. Yet, we continue to live in urban jungle with animals lurking around.

Indeed, jungle it is.

I want this story to reach every corner, and pledge together to stop such acts of vast inhuman proportions.

Please, let’s save our women.

Kaka: The Retrospective

@ Anand

A story of a terminally ill messiah, Hrishi da’s masterpiece lingers high above all other RK’s blockbusters. Anand Sehgal is your next door juvenile guy who weaves you in to a web of fragrant waves. He brings laughter with a unique sense of magnetism and the people around him revel in his presence. RK mesmerises with a performance of a lifetime and Amitabh ‘Babumoshai’ Bachhan becomes an aid to an iconic character. Gulzar Saab writes magic for Anand and his lines become cinema’s most cherished ones. Mukesh’s songs and Hrishi da’s script gel like it never has. Rest, as they say, was just pure history.

@ Aradhana

RKs first brush with super stardom, Shakti Samanta’s greatest blockbuster became Khanna’s own. A story that SS ideally made for the beautiful Sharmila Tagore, Khanna made it his own with exploits of a charming air force officer wooing his girl with Kishore da’s eternal voice. ‘Mere Sapnon ki Rani’ and ‘Roop Tera Mastana’ are crazy numbers even today and SS saw the peak with the musical that catapulted Khanna to stardom where his career soared with the flagship of a superstar.

@ Bawarchi

Another Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic, Khanna relives God in the shape of a cook who literally does everything. Coming in to a house of splattered relationships, Ramu breathes fresh lease of life in to a bereaved family. People adore him, neighbours envy him and he spreads simplicity with a meaning of life that exists within ourselves but seldom cared to be explored. Khanna’s charm visible in every frame, he carries the film on his own and lives every frame as a portrait possessed of self. This remains a personal favourite.

@ Ittefaq

A thriller from Yash Chopra, this film is a classic that often misses out to be widely acknowledged in the sphere of few others. A genre that Khanna rarely ventured in to, this one stood out in terms of the plot and treatment. A sexy Nanda and a bewildered Khanna embroiled in a smart conspiracy, Ittefaq was a fresh breathe of air in an era that believed in candy floss romance. In an age of feminine innocence where casting women with grey shades was taboo, Nanda’s portrayal was benign class with touch of lustful cacophony. My unconventional RK pick.