Friday, September 21, 2012

The magic called Madhuri!

This has been my first season of watching jhalak. i had only heard about the show but never really got around to watching it. This year the promos started when i was watching other programs on Colours and - i thought why not? It's a great show with no drama or politics involved. No endless panning on faces and dramatic background scores. So its pure entertainment with healthy competition.

But the real reason why i watch it and am talking about it is Madhuri Dixit! Even though i wasn’t really fond of her during her heydays, i think watching her now brings back the old-world charm of Bollywood! Probably because no one’s come even close to her in some ways in the decades after she left the industry.

First of all, i now think she deserved to be the Superstar that she was then. In fact she was the last female superstar of Bollywood (after Sridevi). And there’s definitely been no one after her with that trademark 440 watt smile! After her, there are no specific names that come to mind that solely stuck to the no.1 position in the leading lady category. From Kareena, Preity, Rani, Kajol, Aishwarya to the more recent Anushka, Katrina, Sonam and Sonakshi - not one can compare to her unconquered status in the 90’s. In fact, all these ladies share the space so non-exclusively that the term No.1 position is no longer talked about. Because no one has qualified for it in a long time.

i also find that watching Madhuri now brings back the old world charm of the 90’s. Well, it’s not like she looks like a fossil now, but lets face it she belongs to the pre-item number and zero-figure days! That was a time when people shone by the dint of their hard-work. There were no tools of technology to cover their flaws and make them look or sound better. Success came from the quality of work one did and not automatically by flaunting a 6-pack chiseled body (men) or a zero-size figure (women). In fact, even though she didn’t shed as many clothes as heroines do today, we did not miss glimpses of her midriff (that became fashionable later). And the focus stayed on her acting skills making her an indelible presence from Bollywood of the era in our minds. 

One thing that touches a chord with me is the way she’s elegantly dressed every time. Now, some might say that a woman who has 2 kids and is her age has to wear layers to cover her not so perfect areas. That’s not the point. I’ve seldom seen heroines walk into shows in normal-person clothes. It’s mostly teeny-weeny pieces with unnecessary skin show which they feel makes a statement about how bold they are! Thanks to the recent anarkali series that people have started dressing up more decently. So, Madhuri dressing up the way she does actually upholds the simpler times that she comes form. You are in costumes only on the movie sets otherwise, dress up normally!

The same argument about her being old and married could apply to the way she greets most guests on the show. It is generally a handshake or sometimes a cursory hug. i don’t say that hugging anyone you meet along your professional career is wrong. In fact that is the trend today. i can’t count the number of time a particular woman choreographer hugged the contestants for their commendable performances on a dance show. But I haven’t found Madhuri say “I want to give you a hug for this performance” even once except for Darsheel who’s a kid. So that’s tehzeeb  for you which today’s actresses definitely lack!

She is also a true master of her craft! She’s not someone who’s reached the zenith of dancing because she can follow her choreographer’s steps through rigorous practice. She has that craft on a professional level. And yet she is so down to earth that when asked to demonstrate any of her steps, she’s always game.

So, for me, Madhuri is the magic of an era goneby. I don’t think we are going to see that grace, elegance, humility and truth in actresses of today’s times - as a person and as a professional.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mind your language!

As a language trainer, i think i am more sensitive to the use of language than most other people. And i can’t help but notice how some erroneous usages have become apart of popular language. No one seems to know that it is wrong or care about what is right. i find such incidences amusing and sometimes, irritating, in that order.

One of the most common errors is in the usage of punctuation. Apostrophe and exclamation mark in particular. And i have seen it being wrongly used even by people who you’d think had sound basic schooling. What’s more irksome is that this can totally distort the meaning and the person doing it has no idea! I got a lot of messages on “Happy Friendship’s day”!! Or Like the sentence “The bank’s loan helped us a lot” Oh my God!! (a la Janice!)

An apostrophe shows belonging and adding at the wrong place makes weird things belong to each other! Like “Richard’s book” (the book belong’s to Richard) or “Laurie’s fault” (the blame is pinned on Laurie). Apostrophe is the critical difference between its and it's. Guess it'll make better sense now!

Exclamation marks seems to be in fashion for weird reasons. What with the chat language making them pretty famous. It seems as if when a message with just words looks bare, exclamation is added for company. “Hi!! Just left home! See you in 10 minI!!”. If you were to read this message aloud including the effect the exclamation is supposed to produce, it would sound pretty funny. But it doesn’t really matter because no one pays attention to those little standing lines!

It also doesn’t matter how it is used. i once got an email whose subject line declared a “job opportunity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” i couldn’t see why someone offering a job would be so excited in the subject line itself! i guess because he had no clue about the meaning he was going to convey. Imagine. if. full. stops. were. to. become. fashionable. sometime. in. future.

The exclamation mark is used to show wonder and surprise. And it should be used exactly at places where it makes sense. Like “i had an amazing day!” or the school time grammar classic “Hurray! We won the match” 

Moving on, one question that seems to be a great conversation piece in polite social situations is “Where do you stay?” i really have no problem answering the question. It’s just that i don’t ‘stay’ where i do. i need to correct it while answering that i live in Mumbai. i can confidently say that not one person has ever asked me where i live. Stay and live are two different words with separate usage befitting each. Stay is used for a short duration when you visit a place or temporarily station yourself at a place. Live is used when you are settled in one place and that’s where you live. Like “i live in Mumbai but I stay at hotels when i am traveling”

The next one is beyond me! We were taught in school that a tall person was so because of the height. A variation, of course a wrong one, is developed from the word height - heighted! (you see, the exclamation here expresses my surprise at the existence of such a word) When i first heard it, i thought that it was an error made by the individual speaker. But repeated use of the word by people, who spoke English not too bad, convinced me that the word is current as an accepted one. Even though no such word exists!

i could go on and on since to my grammatically trained ears, a lot of phrases are an anomaly. So it’ll be more better for me to stop here.

I am sure most of you didn’t find anything amiss in the last sentence above! Good luck!

Monday, September 3, 2012


Monsoon seems to be finally here in Mumbai. Personally, i don’t see what’s the big deal about monsoon anyway! The only reason I don’t mind rain is because i don’t want my taps to go dry next summer. It's not like i really look forward to it. i also don’t get the whole idea of a romantic walk in the rain with two people huddled under one umbrella. i am pretty sure that cant keep both people dry. Plus your shoes and pants are sure to get wet. i know the Raj-Nargis’ legendary walk in the rain but how many people do you see doing that in real life? Not many! Simply because it is not that fun or romantic actually! Rains are so messy and wet. And in most cities, it is a civic hazard. i had to wade through ankle deep water to make it home from the gym. Finding rickshaws is such a nightmare not to mention the public transport systems become dysfunctional.

i think monsoon is fun for little kids when they are only 2 feet high and about 3 yrs old. This is when you get cute rain coats and cuter baby umbrellas with bunny ears sticking out of them! i saw one such kid dressed in a tiny, pink rain coat that went all the way to the feet. i could only make out that little figure wrapped in pink plastic happily jumping around in the rain! Rain is also fun when you don’t have to worry about traveling to work despite the shower. You can just sit by your window watching the downpour, sipping tea/coffee with the mandatory plate of bhajiya!