The Question snobs avoid : Are movie critics any important?

Have you heard about the movie ‘Selma’?

So it is an incredible movie based on black rights on voting. I watched it a few days ago and I remember how astounded I felt, like I felt after watching The Pianist.

I decided to read its review. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but I like reading reviews. While reading the review on the Roger Egbert site there was this paragraph where the reviewer explains a scene where Dr. Martin, a black rights activist, comes to visit a father whose son was murdered in front of his eyes.

This scene had stayed on with me. Like a fish beneath the surface of water, I had felt what it meant. But I was not able to morph my feelings into words. This is what the review did. It aptly conveyed what I felt.

This is what a good review does. It peels off the complexity of subject matter and puts forth the raw thought process behind a scene and the movie as a whole. It lays down the subtleties of the actions of characters. A reviewer doesn’t merely tell about the story, but also about the cinematography, the background score and how it reciprocates a scene. They compare it other works from the director before and also with similar works in that genre.

A review is like looking at the individual woolen threads and how they are wondrously patterned to form a sweater.

This is another example of a beautiful review of the Bollywood movie Highway by TOI, illuminating its flaws and feat simultaneously.

I don’t consider reviews to be absolute and I accept that reviews can be subjective, but they bind importance for me. A reviewer brain storms to display the soul of a movie and gives a better understanding of things, seen and unseen.

There have been some whispers about sold reviews. But a prominent reputed reviewer is very less likely to tarnish his years of labor over some bucks. And if he does, he/she won’t be able to stop at just one film making it easier for the public to identify him.

So yes, honest discerning critics are always important for any form of art to prosper, be it books, paintings or movies.

Commercial vs Literary fiction – What divides them?

This :

Is classified under literary fiction. It focuses more on the psychological journeys of its characters rather than a speedy plot. It has detailed imagery and beautifully crafted prose. If you read it, you may percieve that it was never written with an instinct of being seen rather than being significant.

Whereas this : The Da Vinci Code.

Has a strong plotting and swift pace. It usually falls in a particular genre. One might easily see its charm in hooking the reader and being catchy. It’s intention was more at winning hearts than introspecting one’s psyche.

Now coming to the grey waters : The White Tiger.

This book upheavels our notions of difference between literary and commercial fiction. It blurs the boundaries with insightful characters, moderately paced plot and a less ambiguous ending than strictly ‘literary’ fiction. Recently it has been called as ‘upmarket fiction’.

There you see lies the difference and at times it can be – none.

An ode to Himani, my first love, my cat.

#cats #pets #nostalgia #childhood

Nobody exactly knows when or how Himani came into existence. But she became an intimate part of our household, our mohallah. That is a fact.

From the dens of memories, if I mediate recollections about her, the first thing I can picture again is her black hair on her head, golden on the neck and back; white elsewhere. She was remarkably endowed with the appropriate shade of hair at its humanly appropriate place.

At glance Himani was a sagacious monk, sitting on her hind legs, contemplating the sunset could mellow any heart.

Rumor claimed that during her younger kitten years, Himani was thrown off a roof by a naughty neighbor’s son. But another benevolent neighboring lady made it her purpose to heal Himani.

She called a veterinarian, arranged for the bandaging and medicines and cared for Himani until she began walking again.

Himani walked with a limp for the rest of her life.

But Dear Lord, have I ever seen a more poised, calmer living creation in my life. So much so that she and even our mohallah dog, Burger (a brown beauty), shared a comfy company in each other.

She walked around the house, one step firm and the other gentler. When she finally sat, she sat placing one leg on the ground and the other held softly slightly above.

Non-cat people often complain that cats are not loyal (comparing it with dogs, duh!); that they don’t even sit on the ground like a pet dog would, but they perch atop sofas and in the warmest corners of quilts.

I would say that dogs are dogs (nothing against them, especially Poodles, another love), but cats are aristocratic. They are elegant, maybe they won’t run around you wagging their tail, but they will nudge against you, sit on your laps without you asking for it. They will purr and sleep on your lap, washing away any pain, malice or guilt locked within your chest.

Another blame is that they shit inside the house, but so do you technically. Every creature on Mother Earth needs to be trained like you were how to hold your butt in your baby years.
One grumpy classmate always whined that they steal and while that may be true in some cases, what else would you do on a hungry stomach and no family, eh?

Himani clearly was an exception to that. To everyone who is afraid of being scratched by a cat, barring wild cats not usual to being picked, it’s not my fault that you never held a beauty in your hand or don’t know how to hold one. And for heaven’s sake, I as an educated person, am not even going to talk about the shit superstitions that many literate people believe in.

There were few cats in and around our mohallah before Himani, and fables proclaim that Himani and a neighboring Dhaddu blessed our community with entire generations of cats. Every cat that I see in and around my neighborhood is probably a grand daughter or grand son of Himani.

We, the neighborhood children, even married Himani and Dhaddu once. We prepared brick shelters for her family. (Though they always preferred the sofas.

Those were among my happiest memories of childhood.

But the hardest part was when the kittens died due to cold or disease. We arranged their funerals, burying them with flowers.

And so did Himani one day. Like her origins, nobody knew how or when. She left before her death, almost like a spiritual journey in quest of the truth.
Our neighborhood petted many mohallah cats after that, Twinkle, Shushmita etc. But none of them holds the place that Himani does for me. Himani, the snow of softness. Himani, the song of happiness.

And when she left, the only question that followed anyone’s lips was : ‘Did you see Himani around?’

Image credits : Miss Being Tipsy.

Sex And Thereafter: My Indian friends’ knowledge on abortion.

‘I don’t know what I should do.’ Said Puneet (name changed).
And this is the statement that hundreds of Puneet’s make after having unprotected sex on a wild night. Even the change of name seems irrelevant to me.

He told this to me over a panicky phone call, four days after the intercourse, only after he was worried that his girlfriend had vomited twice. It was later found to be due to the previous night’s stale chaat corner.

Such is the state of knowledge on contraception of fully functioning working adults in our nation. Their beliefs of a positive pregnancy are shaped by retching scenes in melodramatic Bollywood movies than a sex education class. Because like ‘ache din’, there exists no such class in our country.

The aftermath of such situations is even worse when I learnt from multiple sources that they had ‘managed’ an unwanted pregnancy via a little chat with the pharmacist at the local medical store. Within seven minutes or less, they can easily buy an abortion drug kit, without a prescription.

These are drugs that should only be bought with a prescription as per the guidelines. And it’s certainly impossible that pharmacist is not aware of it. It only adds to my horror that there are reports of Indian women using abortion kits to space pregnancy.

Then there are those cocky cases where the male refuses to wear a glove because of the ‘decrement’ in pleasure. The real problem arises when he reassures his love not to take the OCP as he is stubborn on being the king of pulling out at the right time.

I have many impossible friends who somehow believe that unprotected sex without ejaculation cannot lead to a pregnancy.

Do they actually know that one; yes, a single sperm out of the average 50 lakh sperms in a 0.05 mL single drop of their semen can cause conception!

Do they know that there is something called as precum lingering the tip of a penis? If I count every person whom I have explained the mechanics to, I really don’t think so.

The problem is not the drugs meant for abortion which are found to be safe enough that can be taken at home. The problem is the blatant negligence in caution, in awareness about these drugs. The problem is the stigma that full grown adults have in visiting a Gynecologist.

Let me break it down for you: the issue which has lopsided your world is another monotonous narrative at the worst for your doctor. The medical abortion can be done till 12 weeks of the pregnancy counting from the first day of a woman’s last period. It is safer if done earlier.

Though the medical abortion is safe, there is the possibility of life threating complications like excessive bleeding, septic shock, incomplete abortion etc
That brings us to the next question : Will adults, caught up with stigma, who couldn’t face going to a gynecologist in the first case, reach the emergency medical services ‘in time’ if a complication happens?

Being a former medical student and now a doctor, I have received many similar panicky calls in hushed tones over the years, and I have a single advice for all of them: Visit a doctor, not Google.

Diary Of An Ambivert.


DISCLAIMER: The twaddling I am about to do has nothing to do with 10 signs of being an ambivert.

I had arrived a bit late to my batchmate’s birthday party at the familiar hotel in the heart of our Srinagar. But that didn’t stop me from shaking some legs (and ass) at the dance floor or munching the starters till I didn’t need the main course.

But after the usual greetings, the pretending-busy-with-the-phone till anything interesting begins; the non-veg jokes and banter, or amid all of it, I felt the need to go back and binge on Netflix. Or read ‘One Hundred years of solitude’ or something from the ceaseless pile of ‘To Read’ lists.

I like the parties for the food, little dancing and rarely an interesting conversation. But the thing that happened at the above party has become a vicious pattern of sorts for me. To like company, but not it’s excess. To be in the center of the dance floor, dancing your guts out, but to also avoid too many stares.

I remember the last time I said no to the idea of a trip. My reclusive friend, Pooja’s question was whether I will ever go on a solo trip.

But I also remember the other time when I adamantly said no to a meticulously planned trip by some friends. The problem was the final count for the trip was 25 people after including everyone’s Baby and Beba. I love vacations ; I hate circuses.

My vision of a solo trip involves going on a trip with your ‘inner circle’ buddies where you can carve out your own personal space and reflections over life whenever you want to.

Many of my friends say that I am chatty; others notice that I don’t leave my room for days. It’s not that I don’t love conversations. But my apathy to cricket, body building and clothing secludes me out of many, and mostly comfortably so.

I like to know people, but I have this weird problem with handshakes. ‘Who will initiate it?’ ‘What if I lift my hand and he doesn’t?’ I relish conversations with strangers, but am anxious about meeting them. Especially overwhelming divas.

One may deduce that I am merely moody. Maybe there is some truth in the statement, but can moods affect a person’s attitude for so long and to such extents.

In my opinion, moods are phasic. Like an infectious splenomegaly, a mood can be a temporary protrusion, often provoking displeasure in our company. But ambiversion is an incessant stream, a breathing, beating part that makes you ‘you.’

I have been staying alone in medical college hostels, shifting rooms, year after year. At brief moments, I have this vision of staying alone in a desolate hill. In silence, in solitude, in probable bliss.

At other moments, I lie on my bed, with lights off and eyes wide awake asking myself this, ‘Do I really stay alone?’ ‘How did I manage to stay alone all these years?’

I thought that only I am this complicated mess, this interspersed land of verbose and taciturn territories.

But no, I found out that there are many others like me esp. in this day and age. In my hostel, in my college, on this blue planet. Some who have found themselves, some who are yet to.

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