PadMan Review

An incredible story of India’s own Superhero

India’s superhero ‘Padman’ gives hope to millions of Indians and inspires them to chase ideas that can bring about a positive change in society. Arunachalam Muruganantham, brilliantly essayed by the versatile Akshay Kumar, is the original hero upon whom the biopic drama is based. He single-handedly invented a low cost sanitary pads machine, providing pads at an extremely affordable price and initiated campaigns across India to spread awareness regarding menstruation and hygiene.

Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar), a welder by profession is a married man who deeply loves his wife Gayatri (Radhika Apte), so much so that he is always on a lookout to make her life better by bringing solutions to her everyday problems. He sees her crying while cutting onions and he comes up with an idea of an inventive contraption machine to do the job. She feels uncomfortable sitting on the backseat of his cycle and he fixes a wooden seat behind. So when he realizes that she uses an unclean cloth during her periods, worried that she might get an infection, he buys sanitary napkins for her. But she, dissuaded by the high price, firmly refuses to use them. Undeterred, a tenacious Lakshmi sets upon a mission to find the solution himself. However, menstruation being a taboo that it is in India, he is met with public humiliation and shame which forces him to leave the village. Pained and hurt by the shame his wife goes through, he resolutely decides to come back with a restored dignity. After countless failures and challenges, his invention finally materializes. A serendipitous meet with a perky and smart city girl Pari (Sonam Kapoor), daughter of an IIT professor, enables him to showcase his innovation to the rest of the world.

Akshay Kumar shines through in his role, bringing out both the comical as well as earnest side of the character. Radhika Apte beautifully supports him. Sonam Kapoor, being her chirpy self, is refreshing in later half.

Sometimes the movie does slide into sermonizing melodrama, but owing to the smooth progression of the narrative and funny moments peppered sufficiently, it quickly comes back on track.

For a film with a social message, it’s a no mean feat to be both entertaining and educative at the same time. But ‘Padman’ manages to score high on both counts. With women’s issues gaining prominence in recent period, this film couldn’t have come out at a more opportune time. There is no shame in discussing about periods, is a message resonated loud and clear by the end, leaving us a tad more, if not wholly, sensitized towards women’s health and menstruation issues.

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‘Your Name’ Review

An endearing tale of body-swap romance

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Imagine one day waking up in someone else’s body, another gender at that, in a different part of the world. You’d most likely dismiss it off as an amusing dream, wouldn’t you? So do the teenage characters in the anime film, ‘Your name’ when a girl from a small town, Itomori, swaps body with a boy from the big city Tokyo. But when this episode of body swap repeatedly occurs over time, they realize they aren’t dreaming and that this, in fact, is a reality.

Based on this fascinating premise, ‘Your name’, a sci-fi teenage drama makes for an incredibly charming watch. The two’s lives become irreversibly interlinked through the body swaps. Mitsuha and Taki come to know each other thoroughly well without actually having ever met. Their personalities are different and this causes lot of confusion at start but they eventually adjust. They leave notes so that they don’t mess up each other’s lives when they’ve traded the bodies. ‘Do not touch my breasts,’ admonishes Mitsuha. ‘Stop changing my relationships!’ warns Taki. While they are at it, they also begin enjoying bringing changes in each other’s lives and bragging about the same to irk the other one. Until one day, they realize, the swapping has stopped and the memories too, are fading. Both feel an emptiness, a longing, a desire to seek someone or something that they can’t remember. And this ensues a journey through the tangles of time, with the backdrop of a meteor shower, to find the missing element. Will they ever be able to meet or unravel the mysteries surrounding their lives?

Your name is a refreshing film that playfully explores the simplistic dynamics of adolescence while also adding elements of more mature concepts of destiny, catastrophe and time. Both Mitsuha and Taki are not the same people after their surreal experience. The story evolves as it proceeds, unveiling layer after layer that helps audience make sense of the bigger picture. The animation, consisting of magically lit skies and breathtaking landscapes along with the depiction of characters’ changing emotions, is stunning to say the least. The background score beautifully complements the scenes.

This one’s for anyone who’s seeking a thrilling inventive movie experience skewing cliches.

Aapla Manus, an entertaining drama thriller

Aapla Manus (roughly translated as, our dear one) directed by Satish Rajwade and starring Nana Patekar, Sumeet Raghavan and Iravati Harshe is a family drama cum thriller that infuses humour, suspense and morality dilemmas in equal measure.

On the night of 28th June, a man falls off the balcony of his building. This leads to a crime investigation headed by Inspector Maruti Nagargoje (Nana Patekar) who begins a series of interrogation rounds involving the couple, Rahul (Sumeet Raghavan) and Bhakti (Iravati) to solve the mystery of the incident. The pendulum of verdict fluctuates between the incident being a suicide case, to it being a crime. With the needle of suspicion hovering over either the husband or wife, we are taken in for a thrilling suspense ride that never falls short of surprise elements till the end point. What makes this different from a regular thriller is that there’s plentiful humor alongside moral viewpoints that are abundantly sprinkled throughout to have you entertained as well as absorbed in contemplation while the drama unfolds.

The film is loaded with moral lessons but they aren’t preached in a sappy way. There’s a strong plotline to drive home the point the film intends to convey. So even in the presence of moralistic dialogues, the audience is never bored because it manages to circumvent the zone of being overly sentimental by bouncing back to the story with its fast paced momentum.

What also phenomenally works in the film’s favour is the strong performances by the cast. Nana Patekar, as usual, delivers both his role as Abba and Inspector with stellar capability. It’s a delight to watch him on screen lending immense authenticity to the characters he portrays. Sumeet Raghavan in his role of Rahul, a husband torn between the tiffs between his father and wife, carries off a subdued persona with ease and charm. Iravati, as Bhakti, a new age independent woman with firm viewpoints impeccably brings out the character’s strong personality.

It’s an entertaining film that you can watch with your family and be reminded of the bonds you need to value and beliefs you need to reevaluate.

Of Creativity, Arts, Passion and Dance

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ABDC 5th Annual Showcase

Creativity, power-packed performances and a joyous vibe was what defined the 5th Annual Showcase of Arts Beats Dance Center (ABDC) in Pimpri. It was impossible to not feel the pulsating energy that charged the entire atmosphere of the auditorium. The show included an impressive variety of styles like- Jamaican dance form, belly dance, kathak, a riveting Charlie Chaplin final speech dance, a spectacular visual treat in the form of a special UV performance, among others- which kept the audiences thoroughly enthralled right from start.  The kids were a delight to watch dancing away in joy to songs like Bapu sehat ke liye haanikarek hai; being expressive to the fullest.

The Charlie Chaplin performance especially had such depth and character rendered solely through the artist’s dance and expressions; that one could sense the pain and joy that juxtaposes in an artist’s life. A powerful quote which was shown at the end of the performance- ‘My heart is sad but my lips don’t know that…they just smile’- tugged at heartstrings. Another highlight was the performance of a male belly dancer along with his troupe. It’s really inspiring when you see an artist rise above conventions, norms, and regulations, and truly embrace an art form for what it truly represents and inspire others to do the same. Abhishek Rana, who is an instructor at ABDC, has fought against all odds and stereotypes for his passion for belly dancing and is now living his dream. There also was a 55- years old lady who charmed the audience with her energy and grace on stage. The UV ray performance was about artists of different kinds and how they create their best works to touch people’s lives and in return have a simple expectation- to get appreciated for their efforts and talent they so lovingly nurture. All these performances reinforced the idea that art is not confined by any superficial boundaries of age, gender, nationality or religion. It transcends all barriers and exhorts us to be better beings.

The man behind this creative endeavor, Akshay Bhosale, founder of ABDC, shared his journey with the audience. Despite having faced innumerable hardships along the way while trying to gain a foothold in this profession, he never gave up on his dream. He was met with judgments and was scoffed at for ditching the ‘conventional’ career route and that did disappoint him to some extent; however, he never allowed it to become a major deterrent because the overwhelming love and support he got from his family and well-wishers always overshadowed every kind of negativity. By sharing his personal story, he urged parents and students to follow their passions and do what they love and also support each other to live a life that makes them truly happy. He concluded with a beautiful message that with love, passion, dedication, and support, we can overcome any hurdle life throws at us.

The 5th Annual showcase overall was a tremendous success as a result of concerted efforts of the team, the conceptual creativeness, the terrific performances of participants of all age-groups and of course the encouraging audience.
You can check out a glimpse here! 🙂 Amazing video by Canfuse.

(PS- Being backstage, it was even more interesting as I could feel the anticipation as well as the nervous excitement of participants as they prepared themselves for their performance; and the adept team of organizers and volunteers who hustled to ensure smooth functioning of the event. When we sit ahead as an audience, we do get to enjoy all the performances but what we remain oblivious to is the tremendous amount of planning and management that happens backstage, especially when there are tiny restless kids as participants involved along with other age group people. While most of us won’t really be concerned with that, it is the backstage management that determines how the show will turn out to be. The crew perfectly coordinated with each other to ensure the delivery of a flawless show. Kudos to the team for excellent management! :))

Waterfall Rappelling- A Beginner’s Account

Lush green fields, pristine streams, swathes of dark clouds hovering over the mountains and the view of the stunning waterfalls- a quintessential monsoon day in a scenic place. I was there for my first adventure sports experience, thrilled to the bone- my thrill heightened by the weather and the beautiful surroundings. It only kept building up as I trekked with a lovely bunch towards our destination- The Dodhani Waterfall, Panvel.

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Green as far as our eyes could see. Magic of monsoons. 🙂

I had read and seen some pictures of waterfall rappelling before I set out, but nothing prepared me to what I experienced.

The moment I laid my eyes on that ferocious waterfall, excitement tinged with anticipation madly soared inside me. But what also crept up along with that was nervousness. The waterfall was undoubtedly stunning, but at the same time it was quite formidable. Having poured torrentially the last two days, the flow had increased a lot. Nervous questions arose. Will I really be able to do this? What if I fall off and am swept away by the fierce flow of the water? What if I hit myself on the rock? What if the ropes can’t take my weight? Maybe, I shouldn’t do this. But thankfully for me, and also the rest of us, all our doubts and fears were laid to rest by the professionals there who answered all of our questions and also relayed information about the equipments used. What, above everything else, worked to assuage the fear was when one of them joked, ‘Worry only if you weigh over 1 tonn,’ further quipping, ‘Even if you want to commit suicide, you can’t.’ Well, that worked. On a serious note, they also informed that they would stop the event if it starts raining heavily as even 5 minutes of rain can increase the water flow; safety being paramount to us. When you play in nature’s lap, you got to respect its whims, right?

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The gorgeous waterfall view from top

After the instructions, the rappelling started.  My heart was fluttering throughout the wait. Perhaps having sensed my nervousness, my co-rappeller asked, ‘Are you nervous or excited?’ I couldn’t tell myself. But then when my turn came; and as the professional checked my harness one last time and set up the ropes, the thrill somehow bounced back and the fear receded. I felt a feverish high as I slowly stepped back to descend down. My form was right as I could guess from the encouraging cheering from Devendra (the organizer) and the professional who readied me. ‘Why was I even nervous in first place?’ I thought as I grew confident with every backward step. But just as I reached the edge and was about to go down, I lost balance and slipped. There was this split second terror that seized me when I felt I’m going fall down. But I didn’t because that just isn’t possible. It was after this slip that my confidence roared back triumphantly and I resumed my rappelling with renewed energy. From this point onward, it was only thrill that I experienced. Take my word for this- the waterfall lashing on you from above as you pace down a rope is nothing short of exhilarating. Even though I slipped many more times, I got back to my position and continued.

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Yep. That’s me.

After it ended, I was flooded with an indescribably joyous feeling. I did it! Despite my fears and self-doubt, I did it. And isn’t that the whole point? You do it to feel such exuberant highs, intensified more by the fear and self-doubt that precedes it. When you don’t let even your own self stop you, that’s when you make yourself mighty proud.

So if you made through this long post, I want to say to you- Do try waterfall rappelling at least once- even if you are a beginner; in fact more so if you are a beginner! It’s absolutely safe. (As they’ll tell you as well, how it has 3 layers of safety.) Even if you slip multiple times (like I did), you won’t be majorly hurt. I only have some sore muscles, which also strangely feels good. Ask the professionals every question that comes to your mind. Ask them about the equipments and the safety standards. Most importantly, follow every instruction and don’t venture out alone near the waterfall without a professional with you. Follow safety guidelines and instructions to the hilt, and you are good to go. 🙂

Our trip ended with delicious meal served by a local family satiating our rumbling stomachs and happy spirits. 😀

Thanks Mapping Journeys for my terrific first adventure sports experience. 😀 Truly unforgettable. :’)

Picture Courtesy- Devendra Mestry

Busting Travel Myths- A Reality Check

‘If travelling was free, you’d never see me again.’ ‘Let me go escape in the mountains.’ ‘I’m young, wild and free.’

Quotes like these, amassing enviable likes and tags, pop up with almost every second scroll on our social media.

Why is my life so boring? How am I stuck here, in the confines of my dull office, while my social media friends are travelling to exotic places and living life as it’s supposed to be? And here I am, ordinary, insignificant, without a life, stuck with the mundane.

 How many of y’all have had such thoughts plague your mind at least at some point? I’m sure there’d be a massive majority nodding yes. If you say no, either you are too awesome or squarely lying.

So here’s the deal. I feel somehow, social media today is perpetuating an escapist attitude in us. While travel is wonderful and we all love it, not all of us can make it our life’s calling. Every time you get a thought of quitting everything and setting out to travel the globe, take it as a sign to contemplate your life. Is your job unsatisfying and you feel the urge to run away? Are you feeling a need to get away from certain people in your life? Are you thinking of travelling only to escape things you are afraid to address? Or is it simply out of fear of missing out among friends? Review your life and prioritise what needs your attention first.

The truth is, we all have responsibilities that we can’t escape. And we got to rise up to that maturity level to not just accept but also do our best to earnestly discharge those. An easy way out is always tempting. ‘Let me drop this shit and get on that plane.’ I can’t even count the number of times I’ve felt this way. But then, rather unwillingly, my heart began to accept the truth it always secretly was aware of. We have bills to pay. We have work to do. We have families to support. Even though travel can be cheap and spontaneous, a certain amount of planning, time commitment and expenditure is still required. With this in mind, you’ll probably see that taking a trip every now and then isn’t as feasible option as it might seem at first thought.

Having said that, you always can travel (and you must in fact) when you feel you deserve a break. When you do it, it shouldn’t be to escape but to explore and learn things outside your professional and personal realm. Don’t let travel snobbery of social media world misguide you into taking rash decisions or give you a sense of regret for not jumping on the bandwagon.

Finding beauty in ordinary

Also, there’s something we must always remember. Living life to the fullest doesn’t equate to traveling to your heart’s content. It’s taking one ordinary moment at a time and making it extraordinary in your own way. Desirous of soothing sunsets? Go to your terrace or some point with a view. Soak in that beauty. It’s the same sun after all, right? Need some alone time to relax and calm your nerves? Take a walk or read a book in that park close-by that you happen to cross every day but never got to visit. Saunter in local areas around you and explore by foot. Smile and wave at that chaiwala hard at work since dawn. Strike a conversation with a stranger on local bus/train ride on the way back home. Marvel at that peculiar tree without leaves at the corner of the road in your colony. You’ll be surprised how oddly striking the otherwise unremarkable thing would seem. Feed and pat that cute little furry thing, lazily lying on streets, incongruous with the bustling pace around. Look up at the night sky and gaze at the beautiful moon, a silent observer, luminous and calm, perhaps like you? Then before you close your eyes, review all the good and hard work you’ve done through the day. Make plans for the next. But most importantly, smile because you sought happiness in places and moments and beautifully made it your own.

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Sunset from my office:)

Live your everyday to the fullest, work hard and grow and then when you’ve been honest to your routine and everyday life, reward yourself with a trip somewhere far or around. You can definitely find time on either weekends or public holidays, or save up your leaves and take a trip you want to. Balance is the key and balance is what you should strive to find. 🙂

The incredible New Year’s Eve ’16

Seeing your mother become a child again, playing games with careless abandon, singing songs and dancing cheerfully; can there be anything sweeter than this? This new year’s eve was way more special than I’d imagined it to be, more so because I welcomed it with two of my closest people by my side in a serene surrounding away from the chaotic city with countless stars in the sky. It was also mom’s first camping experience and seeing her as excited as she was, brought about a surge of indescribable joy in me.

I don’t remember the last time I too played simple games with such kiddish zeal. There was a mad dash of nostalgia as my mind wandered in those glorious days where simple joys existed and innocence prevailed. Nothing else mattered as we shed all inhibitions and enjoyed like there’s no tomorrow. As the night progressed, I didn’t feel as if we were stepping into a new year. Rather it was like a time warp, a rewind into childhood days. The bemusing aspect was, it happened unexpectedly yet I was aware and unaware at the same time. Even as my mind unawarely slid down the gentle corridors of memory, my heart silently pined for the days lost in past, aware of the changing seasons, aware of the relentless march of time into future, aware of the bittersweet feeling of growing up too fast. The confusing collision of emotions was only allayed by the sight of my mother having the time of her life and that, solely that, made peace descend over every bewildering thought and feeling I was having. What followed was a bone-deep happiness, pure and limitless. 🙂

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The artistically done campsite was a perfect backdrop for all the fun, frolic and contemplation. Fairy lights charmed every corner. The sitting area had a shelf stacked with interesting books perched at the corner and an unmissable center wall that had ‘CARPE DIEM’ boldly painted over it. On the wall opposite this one, there was a heart-warming surprise they had planned for us. Hung on three threads, were pictures of all the attendees of the camp fair lit and adorned by cupcake fairy string lights. It was a sweet gesture by the team to make every person there feel warmly welcomed. The floor between these two walls had a giant snake and ladders game. Paper lanterns hung overhead. Happy people milled around the campsite absorbed in their own spheres of merriment. For all the games that we played, we won coupons and the next morning we redeemed those coupons for fun, quirky gifts. Redeemed how? By auction. Quite exciting. The next awesome thing for me personally was a folk dance performance by local artists depicting the culture of Maharashtra. (more on that later).
All in all, it was a happy place to be at for New Years Eve with your beloved ones. New friends were also made. Endless conversations followed.

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Night for me was beautiful beyond measure. Sitting with my best person, talking about nothing in particular, looking up at the sky full of stars, twinkling and shining, it was magical. I’ve had such nights before, sleeping beneath an open sky, admiring the breathtaking beauty and experiencing a calm being settled over my heart. But this time, the atmosphere was tinged with exhilaration along with peace, the contentment of soul with a flaming hope of my heart, becalming solitude with the comfort of my perfect company. There’s something about shared silences too, right? Without any intoxication involved, I got my high- now etched in my memory forever.
I’m looking forward to a beautiful 2017 filled with adventures, opportunities and challenges to overcome. With a start as wonderful as this, the year hopefully will follow the course. 🙂

PS- Special thanks to Mapping Journeys for putting across a wonderful event and giving us memories of lifetime. 🙂