Connected by ink and paper

This quote from Roman philosopher and statesman, Seneca “The comfort of having a friend might be taken away, but not that of having had one”, rings so true to me today.

Early last week brought the news of the death of my dear friend Gerty. As I try to come to terms with this news, I keep remembering our many interactions, what the friendship with her and her husband Fritz has meant to me, and how amazing it is that this friendship even came about.

Moving away from the main theme of this blog today, I want to share this personal story that I had started writing more than a decade ago, soon after Fritz had passed away.

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The crying catharsis

Tears are said to be the deluge that cleanses regret and drains away sorrow. Tears and smiles are supposed to go hand-in-hand, just like rain and sunshine. Just like a plant needs the latter to flourish so does a human need the former to grow in strength and stature. Hmm…rain and sunshine, I guess this wasn’t an Indian simile. The Indian sun is a tear jerker in itself, and comparing tears to rain in India would mean a short supply of tears in the dry northern Indian plains or seasonal torrential downpours in coastal areas. But I digress.

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Knives Out (2019)

A whodunnit, a social satire, a comedy or simply a feel good movie? It is perhaps all of that and more. On the recommendation of my sisters, I had watched this movie when it came out a couple of years ago. I recently re-watched it with my family (including two teenagers) and together we enjoyed this layered drama just as much, or maybe even more, than when I had watched it first.

I’hem tellin’ you, this film is whay bette’ than hah James Bond!
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Moving forward, and looking back to Old is Gold

I wish the days were longer. If there were 48 hours in a day, instead of just 24, I would be able to spend so much more time doing fun things – painting, reading, writing… But the more pragmatic around me point out that if days were longer I would probably need to work longer hours and spend more time on daily routines, and they are definitely not shy in telling me that if days were longer, I would spend more hours watching movies, chit-chatting and… planning all the things I would do if the days were longer! Ah well, they are probably right but that does not stop me from dreaming of scenarios where all my plans would come to fruition.

But I am happy to say, that even though I am continuously failing to complete my half-written posts, I haven’t been entirely unproductive. I have been working on reviving Bollyviewer’s old blog, Old is Gold. With more than a hundred of her posts there, it remains a treasure trove for me. I am re-posting one of the popular posts from that blog, where I have updated the web-links.

The A-Z of Mohammed Rafi
Originally published: 31 July 2009

Think old Hindi songs and you think of Rafi’s voice! For over three decades, he was the singing voice of generations of heroes. His melodious voice could soar into high notes for a passionate song or dip down into the low notes for a ghazal, adapt itself equally well to a qawwali, a classical song, a Rock-n-Roll number, or a bhajan. It wasn’t just his vocal range and melodious voice that made him such a popular singer. There was also that elusive quality – Charisma with a capital C – in his voice (a quality that onscreen stars had cause to be grateful for!). And then of course, as Filmi Girl points in her awesome podcast, he was also a consummate actor. He could make you laugh and cry, tug on your heartstrings, make you feel blue, or ready to dance. 29 years after his death, his voice is still fresh and charismatic as ever!

So, here’s a post dedicated to my favorite singer on his 29th Death Anniversary [ed. 42nd anniversary in Jul 2022]. Since it’s impossible to do a list of my favorite Rafi songs or even favorite Rafi solos/duets, (those lists would run into the hundreds), I’ve decided to do a Rafi song for each letter of the alphabet.* Just to make things more interesting, I decided to restrict myself to his duets or group performances from B/W films. So here goes…(The songs are all in a YouTube playlist.)

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Kucch aur zamana kehta hai: the freedom to not conform

[I had written this post in Oct 2020. Bollyviewer was going to add her signature screenshots with captions before posting it on this blog. I pondered if I should bother with them now. But having always enjoyed her style, I decided to give it a go.]

Azadi, freedom…what thoughts do these words bring to your mind? For me, it brings to mind open fields, blue and sunny skies, laughter, pleasure, feeling of contentment. Azadi can mean different things for different people. For some it could mean a safe roof over their head, for some others the opportunity to gain education and work in a desired field, for yet others it could mean the freedom to love the person of their choice, to live the way they please or even just the chance to frolic around without worry. For a lot of women the world over, and in India, it has meant a lot of these things together. Social conventions and age-old traditions have decreed that girls in India learn from childhood to mold their behavior and suppress their dreams and desires to please others. But how long can you keep telling a chained soul that she is free? Can traditions and social mores prevent the dreamer from dreaming or the rational from questioning? And what can be more beautiful to experience than freedom, once attained?

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My WordPress Woes!

I was full of enthusiasm at the start of this weekend. I had just finished drafting a new post and wanted to publish it. But once in WordPress, I couldn’t get the formatting right. I just wanted to format the post title and screenshots in WordPress, but have ended up changing the appearance theme! Apparently once activated, I cannot go back to the previous theme, which by the way, is not available in WordPress anymore. With the new theme I also lost the header images. Fortunately, I could find those back in Bollyviewer’s data but I am unable to make the images fit on the blog header such that they appear as a whole for mobile and tablet viewing.

So, I think this weekend will be dedicated to WordPress. I hope that I will be able to solve the issues and get down to the real business of blogging before next weekend! If you have any tips for me, please do let me know.

In the meantime, I am listening to this song:

Socha tha kya, Kya ho gaya!

Update: Switching to another theme seems to have helped.

Pride and Prejudice: The Musical

When I last posted on this blog, I was sure I would be working on Bollyviewer’s posts immediately to keep this blog alive and importantly, for myself, to remain connected with the blogging world, a connection that I have enjoyed via Bollyviewer all these years. It was easier said than done! Not wanting to face that sense of loss, which intensified every time I opened one of her incomplete posts, I preferred to distract myself with the demands of routine life – work and family. Which only made it more difficult to start with again. That was until a few weeks ago, when I received a mail from Anu, asking how I was. That little message, a reminder of the world that I have more or less disconnected from in the last year, but which I realize I have been missing, has given me the push to start again. Thank you, Anu!

So, here is one of the posts that Bollyviewer was working on and on which we had had lots of fun discussing, even through her illness.

Perhaps you might think, as did I, that Pride and Prejudice has been done to death in films and series. There are so many versions of this (longtime favorite of ours) story, on celluloid, that the plot now appears staid and repetitive; and the dialogues are so well known, that the words seem to have lost meaning. Well, then you haven’t contended with Bollyviewer’s take on it. And I am not talking about the fantasy casting coup that she and our youngest sister carried out earlier, with some really interesting contributions from the readers, but about Pride and Prejudice: The “Bollywood” Musical.

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Bollyviewer lives on!

By Bollyspektator

Dear readers of Masala Punch, Bollyviewer is no more. My sister and founder of this and a previous blog (Old is Gold) died in February as a consequence of cancer. Bollyviewer was so full of life and so interested in observing and participating in its ups and downs, that it is difficult for me to accept that I will no longer be talking with her or hearing her beautifully acidic comments on the world and its stories. It is difficult to accept that I will no longer be having fun, discussing Bollywood movies with her or hear her planning for her next blog post. Because yes, although she had not been posting actively on this blog in the last years, she was still full of plans for her future posts. Bollyviewer had so much more to say to the world and to hear from the blogging community, where she had found kindred souls and formed deep attachments. Thank you dear Anu, dear Madhu for the heart-warming tributes to Bollyviewer.

Bollyviewer enjoyed her life but she was also a realist and knew when the end was near. Her only sorrow then was that she was not allowed to end her life with dignity, at a moment of her choosing, but had to endure as it slowly and painfully drained away.

Zindagi, hasne gaane ke liye hai pal, do pal…

In the last year Bollyviewer and I had started with some posts, which I hope to share in the coming weeks and months. For now, here is one of her old posts, which I had enjoyed a lot. She had created this whole post after I happened to remark that the movie seemed full of “gobhi ke parathe”!

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Lessons on unrequited love from Hindi masala movies

Guest post by BollySpektator

While I love blogging, in the past few years I’ve found it very hard to write. There are multiple unfinished posts on my hard drive, and I have little energy to complete them.  So when my younger sister offered to write a post for me, I jumped at the chance! She wrote this months ago, and has been wondering when her post will be published. So without further ado, over to BollySpektator. Hope this is the first of many of her posts….

I recently watched the movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (ADHM) and it made me think. Yes, really. What if the movie-makers had given the vacant characters a real life? What if these characters had jobs or were shown to care about something other than themselves? What if they hadn’t chopped off Fawad Khan’s role? Would the film have touched a chord with me then?

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