Feb 17, 2009

If you are a Punjabi living in Delhi ...

We were discussing Dev D at the work and I was told by some guys that you need a different sort of mindset to enjoy it and you can only appreciate the movie fully if you have ever lived in a hostel. Huh! (According to them 7 out of 10 people who live in hostels are on drugs and you need to be around such people to understand the movie).Weird I must say because I spent 5 years in JNU and I still couldn’t fathom the so called brilliance behind the movie.
Also, the self -same people tell me that this film very well depicts what the rich kids of rich businessmen in Punjab do and what happens if you live in Delhi as a student/all alone (apparently you don’t go to college at all but spent all your time doing drugs). Now as a Punjabi born and brought up in Delhi I take very strong umbrage to that. I just don’t get it... I guess all Punjabi kids ride about town in huge expensive cars and go abroad to study .. Then they come back and fool around with their girl friends and when the girl friend marries someone else they shift to pahargunj and do drugs…Thanks guys for educating me about my people !
While the whole world raves on about Anurag K’s bold and psychedelic take on life, all that my intelligent friends could get out of the movie is what kind of people Punjabis are. I am not saying that Anurag Kashyap shouldn’t have used Pahargunj or Punjab as backdrops. . What irks me is the kind of compartmentalization and generalization people do.
All I want to do right now is spew few of the choicest of Punjabi Gaalis on them ..

Feb 6, 2009

Childhood Reads

One of my earliest memories is of the passage connecting the living room to the study in my grandfathers’ house. Bookshelves lined both sides of the passage and they were filled with the Readers Digest. My grandfather was an avid reader and he had started subscribing to the Readers Digest as far back as the 1960s and he had saved every single copy. I remember sitting on the cold floor, just a child of 8; breathing in the musty crumbly smell that I have always associated since with old books; trying to make sense of the stories and trying to solve word power.
I started my childhood readings with Champak – I remember devouring the whole magazine in two days and then pestering my mom to get me another copy not understanding that it I would have to wait till the next month to get it. Champak was followed by Nandan, chanda mama and children’s world. And then came the glorious years of Target magazine. This wonderful magazine started by Living Media was a fabulous mix of stories, comic strips and General Knowledge. I don’t think there is any child who grew up in the 80s who has not read Target. We started subscribing to it as soon as it started getting published in the 80s when I was barely 4 and my brother 11. We continued till 1995 although by then I was too grown up for a ‘children’s magazine’. But I could never give it up. Ruskin Bond, Sigrun Srivastava, Geeta Dharmarajan, Mala Marwha, Vatsala Kaul – Target introduced me to these wonderful children’s writers and they did a great deal in inculcating the love for literature in me.
Another favorite childhood read was Amar Chitra Katha. I guess you can call them our first desi comic books. Beautifully illustrated with stories out of our mythology.
A few years back when cleaning up my grandfather’s house, my aunt decided to throw away the entire readers digest collection. I insisted on bringing it to Delhi; dumped in the back seat of our car. It has a place of honor in my bookshelves now along with all the old editions of Target. I take them down sometimes, to leaf through them and to re-live the pleasures of childhood reading.

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