History books, and I am talking about the ones prescribed for us in school, tell us simple stories. Like how Gandhiji brought us freedom.Like how non-violence made the British leave.

Not that we complained—after all the last things one wants in late teenage life are complexities, especially of the type that can come to bite you on your ass during Board exams.

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A Mirror To Ourselves


We have seen this picture in our text books. Happy Indians, of all shapes and colors, holding hands, extolling the ideal of unity in diversity.

Hum Sab Ek Hain. We are all one.

It is a comforting gajar ka halwa national narrative.

It is also, like Santa Claus, patently untrue.

In reality, there are deeply visceral schisms that split us Indians apart on multiple axes—money, language, religion, education, Salman-Shahrukh. If we could take a bullshit-filtering lens and put it on the collective national psyche, we would see a picture that resembles a fifth day Cuttack pitch with its deep fissures, serpentine fault-lines and no binding top-soil . Hell, we don’t even need to do that. Go to Rediff/TOI, pull up any random article, and run through the comment board. You will know exactly what I am talking about.

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What Could Have Been


[Published in DNA, November 11, 2012]

There are quite a few things from my teenage years that I cringe owing up to, none perhaps as embarrassing as having been a shameless Shahrukh Khan fan-boy. As a matter of fact, I was so Madan Chopraaaa crazy that I would occasionally dress up SRK-style (I still have photographic evidence of me in my Ramjaane-inspired get-up) .

Those days, there was a hero vacuum in Bollywood. Amitabh Bachchan, after a disastrous run in politics, was turning out turkeys like Toofan and Akela, fast descending into the rabbit-hole of Dev Anandian obsolescence. Mithun Chakraborty was preparing to pack his bags for Ootie, Anil Kapoor and Jackie Shroff were on their ways out (they didn’t know it yet of course), Aamir Khan and Salman Khan were still finding their feet through a series of chocolate-boy low-key romantic roles, Saif Ali Khan was thought to be a Sharmila Tagore lookalike with no future, Akshay Kumar was cavorting in speedos as “handsome man” Mr Bond and producers considered Rahul Roy a viable sole-hero.

Yes things were that bad.

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