So, which one do you think, is the best News Channel in India?

17 Jun 2018

UNLUCK BY CHANCE: At the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong system -by RAHUL SHARMA (Feat: Reshma Raghavendra)


A Short story By Rahul Sharma – Based on true events, feat: Reshma Raghavendra

All the incidents mentioned in the story are true to the core except few names and places, which are voluntarily changed so as to protect the identity of certain individuals.

“Every morning, I used to wake up like a new born baby and spend some time thinking who I am! “Well I’m a musician, in the making” utters my heart and I am all set for my day. Yes, there I see Shreya Ghoshal, Neha Kakkar and Arjit Singh in the distance, but being from a normal middle class South Indian family, with no many established trait of arts, say of any kind, I too tried to balance my career in music along with that of my studies. Music had always been part of my life and it has given me the social status which I do enjoy right now and I’m indebted to my parents and teachers for finding the ‘me’ in me.
However, each time I kept winning or heading various regional reality shows, I had to take my academic career along since I knew that I was living in a chaotic world. The art of balancing had always been tougher than the art itself! I’d completed my M.Com and was feeling incomplete and it was soon after my clearing of the UGC NET, I was affected by this ‘uncontrollable desire for my passion’ and I wanted to do something greater. This April, was a month of excitement for me, where I found this particular music reality show which recognizes the best music talent, say one of the most prestigious channel reality shows the country has ever seen post ‘Meri Awaaz Suno’ in cognizant with music!  (I don’t want to mention the channel name and the program as well)
Out of the blue, I decided to give it a shot. As a normal Indian girl, I did never think much about it. Yet, I had that confidence within me, which kept me moving. “What if I’m a normal girl? What is not possible in India by being a normal girl?” I kept asking myself. I never wanted to settle down after my degree and get married to someone whom I don’t know. Instead, I always wanted to traverse in my own path, with my own desires. Confidence is that force one gets out of nothing. My previous achievements and all those appreciations and applauds I used to get from my audience kept boosting me.
I was glad enough when I was called for the auditions. I was super excited and then I calmed myself. Rigorous practice sessions and rehearsals filled the rest of my days. The day was approaching and I was busy drafting my plans. I was busy enlisting my songs, preferences and practicing them. As anyone could imagine, attending an audition that takes place at Mumbai itself could be considered as the first level of elimination for a ‘normal Indian girl’ from the south! I had to travel alone and that seemed to be a weird decision from all sides within the family. However, I am grateful to my Dad, who had allowed me wholeheartedly to travel alone, to stay with my cousin in Mumbai and to attend the audition! Yes, that is my Dad, every Indian girl would desire to have such a Dad and I’m lucky on that part. I felt like it was my responsibility to pay back the ones who loved me and I could pay them back by winning the show title! I aimed nothing lesser to the champion tag.
After doing a couple of overnight stage shows in Tamil Nadu, I took my flight to Mumbai, to attend my audition which was supposed to happen on the next day. I had 20 songs in my list which were all set perfect for me. I’d been practicing all of them for weeks so as to make myself unbeatable. I had to stay with my cousin who works on various shifts. It was so nice staying with her, who was alone there at that time and I had cooked food for both of us! (And at times you got to cook stuffs to ease yourselves!) That evening, I was relaxing and enjoying the Mumbai vibe from that apartment at Jogeshwari. Next day, I had the first two rounds of auditions and I was waiting with excitement and I was trying to imbibe the blessings of my well-wishers. My family, friends and people from my place kept wishing me, which kept me on the move.

The Mumbai heat was too scorching such that it could evaporate the body and soul as a whole! Knowing the consequences, I carried a couple of water bottles with me to the audition centre, located at Andheri (E). The Uber dropped me at the venue and I just walked in. The lady officials at the venue were showing great courtesy and I had felt that warmth. As I stepped in, all that I saw was a crowded population of more than 4000 people approximately. One third of them would be girls for sure I guess. For instance, I forgot that it was a music reality show- audition that is being held. Instead, I tried to recollect my statistics lessons and my mind was preparing bar and pie charts of the people gathered over there. There were people from the south as well. Unsurprisingly, there were few people whom I had defeated at regional reality shows as well! It was nice meeting and interacting with them. There were hundreds of male singers from all over India and many of them were looking like typical Bollywood models. There were girls who looked like supermodels and I was a bit confused whether it was an audition for a music reality show or for some Bollywood movie cast! I felt myself empowered within my Blue churidar. I felt thankful to all those boys who had ogled at me back in Kerala, and those yucky memories have now brought a confidence within me! “Appearances can be deceiving, you’ll be judged only on the basis of your talent” said my mind. I made up my mind, started interacting with few friends out there and befriended with few like-minded people I found there.
The ‘WAIT’ has just begun. The reality was pretty hard. All the candidates were waiting unconditionally for their names to get called. By the time I finished a bottle of water, I heard my name being called and went for the first round. Here there was a judge, sitting over there to evaluate me. With all strength, I had sung three songs. “Bhare Naina” being the first one, had swept the minds of the judge. I could read it from their faces and probably ‘the ability to judge one’s judge’ would be that one thing, I would have learnt from my previous channel reality show experiences! With ‘Raina beeth jaye’ and ‘Kamli’, I felt cloud nine when I was told that I was ‘IN’. Now I had to wait a lot for the second round. I am still not sure how many candidates got into the second round. It was nice watching other people being auditioned until I was exposed to the true business side of the reality! I got to see the judges’ remarks and got myself surprised! I got disillusioned when I saw the below average performance of a girl and the judges remarked it as looks good’. There was another fellow who made laughter out of things and I saw the remarks as ‘for entertainment purpose’. We happened to see a lot more poor performances which were being accepted on ‘special grounds’! (Say for example, someone who could sing in male and female voice simultaneously). I was discussing the same with few other like-minded contestants I found there. At the end of the day, we realized two things: The first- was nothing, but the hard core reality that we will not be provided with any kind of food or refreshment and we ought to wait till midnight, unconditionally for the second round auditions without losing our ‘appetites’ to prove ourselves! The second piece of realization was the grave truth that the authorities were interested in not just spotting the genuine talents, but they were seeking for ‘other factors’ too which would boost their TRPs and that included purpose factors like ‘comic characters’, ‘good looking’ and various other stuffs on earth which included almost everything except music!
We were not allowed to leave the station for food and I was exhausted waiting like a hornbill since that morning. A thousand people were put in the same gaol since morning and I started feeling like we are being punished for something that we haven’t done! After 13 hours of long wait, I decided to order snacks via swiggy and that came like a ‘mirage’ in the scorching desert! The second bottle of water was about to finish and I was worried of my dried throat. However, I had kept an ounce of water in the bottle for last minute refreshment. “you should get through these to achieve it”- I said myself. I put myself in a meditative mode and sat there quietly. At the 15th hour of my waiting, I heard my name being called and I had given my second round audition in front of a single judge. “Bhare Naina”, one of my top priorities was my song again and the judge was overwhelmed and I was given a direct entry to the next level. I felt so glad that, however or whatever, at the end of the day, I could get through and now I could put myself on the roll for the third round which would fetch me there at the pinnacle for sure. By now, I had surpassed thousands of candidates and I felt like my Mumbai trip has turned meaningful. I had a gap day and the third round would be held on the day after. I managed to get an uber back to Jogeshwari, and I reached there post-midnight! I was extremely tired and exhausted, yet I could sleep peacefully. As AR Rahman Sir had said: “Ellaa pukazhum iraivanukk” (All credits to the almighty) and I felt that any girl with a genuine talent can reach anywhere and achieve anything in India.
I was relaxing peacefully at the apartments analysing the particularities of the auditions and discussing the same with other candidates and friends. Though I felt anxious and dubious regarding the ‘entertainment business thoughts’ involved in the selection that often abstracts the real talent, I was proud of myself as an ‘Indian girl’, and I wanted to prove it to myself and I was waiting for that to happen. Silent audition was happening on the other side as well, which included ‘other candidates’ who had already attended the auditions and all. They were given a kind of ‘special status’ altogether and it seemed fishy for normal candidates like us. Silent audition was a different ball game altogether and I don’t know how fairly it was being conducted. Imagine this was a national level audition where about four thousand candidates contested for the championship openly, while few guys enjoyed a privileged kind of status in the name of ‘silent audition’ and I am not even sure whether such a trend is appreciable or not. Anyway, I decided myself to groom up for the next day, round three!
Sun rose brighter in Mumbai and it was the crucial day for me. The game starts at 09:00 AM and that was what we were informed. I reached there by 08:30 in the morning and there was no any sign of competitions over there. As time passed, I saw dozens of candidates approaching. Girls were looking more beautiful that day. Boys appeared more handsome as well and I checked myself in that pink dress and said that I was not that bad indeed! After all, I was sure that we will be evaluated not just on the basis of singing but something else indeed. I knew nothing except singing. I am still a music lover and learner and that’s what I am and that’s what I will be. I heard that they were looking for people with ‘stories’ and I didn’t have any dramatic stories in my life to put in my bio.
We were notified that the third round audition has been postponed to that afternoon. Maybe the judges were tired of the previous night auditions and that could be the reason. I decided to wait and that was the least thing I could be doing and I was used to it! I was a bit anxious since I had to catch my flight back home that evening and I had to do check in by 03:30 PM. I wouldn’t have booked my flight on that day. It was just because the authorities assured me that the auditions will be over before noon, I did book my flight that evening. However, at the worst case, I was even ready to cancel my flight and I had made up myself for anything that could follow. Life has taught me a lot of things and I had always realized that whatever you do and how victorious you emerge, at the end of the day, you’ll have none by your side except your shadow. At around 11:00 AM, I discussed my plight with one of the channel officials and she had assured me that I’ll be called for the auditions by 1 o’clock at the maximum and I’ll be the first one to go. That news was a relief for me and once again, I felt happy for them.
I Waited.
The clock struck 1:00 PM and there was no sign of auditions happening and I was worried.
It was 01:15 PM.
There was no orchestra being set up.
There was no mic.
There were no speakers.
No judges showed up.
Nothing happened.
The world seemed still.
I was worried whether I was at the wrong place or what! I went myself to consult an official out there and she said that I will be called soon for my auditions without orchestra. I informed her that I could wait until 03:30 PM since I am done with my web check in. Though I said that I was not in any rush, it seemed like they were in a rush to send me out as soon as possible. Suddenly, I was called in and I had sung a couple of songs (Bhare Naina  and Hai rama) without orchestra and mic. I was wondering like what was happening around. Only a couple of judges had showed up while I sang and after that, I saw three more judges joining for the candidates that followed. I had no clue regarding what kind of judgement they were going to make. With a frozen mind, I saw different candidates being measured on different scales. It was a music reality show and music was in the air! I saw judges making ridiculous comments on quality singers. I heard that few guys with mediocre performance had already made it into the next level through silent auditions and I really didn’t know what kind of drama was happening behind. I felt like a clown within a circus tent. Whatever stunts I do, people will laugh at me and that was what it meant for a ‘normal girl’ in India I guess. A normal Indian girl is no less to a joker for the narrow minded world around and that is the hard core truth.
All that I wanted was to return back home, remove the mask of the ‘winning contestant’ and to cry loudly. I left the place after few minutes, wishing few other contestant friends all the very best. I felt like the mud under my feet was getting washed away.

Today, back at home, I was checking the selection list and as expected, my name was not there. I didn’t get a call from them either. I was devastated. But I was prepared. I have learnt to stay close bound to realities. Life has taught me a lot as a small town girl. A normal Indian girl. Later, I came to know that all the quality singers whom I had met there were not selected. My fellow contestants were rejected too. Many of them too had to sing without orchestra and mic as well. I also came to know that few mediocre candidates were selected due to their strange voice features. Most of the candidates who got selected were from the ‘silent audition’ which appeared to be a ‘faking concealed tender’ in an auction market that bags the entire deal at the last moment! I was not bothered whether I was IN or NOT. What bothered me was the unprofessional method of selection they had conducted. Is this how a prestigious reality show is being conducted? Is this the way to deal with four thousand aspirants across the country? Is this the way the channel is set to increase their TRP? Is this the way talent is being evaluated in this country of diversities? Is this how the nation with the second largest population in the world is getting acknowledged on creative behalf? All these questions were left unanswered within my mind and that is what made me think of putting up my personal experience as a story. The problem is not just with the people, but with the system in its entirety. The system has to be rectified. In order to bring a change, the attitude of the public towards the system has to be changed and I guess my vindication would bring some sort of awareness among the readers at least.
I want nothing, but people out there to know how hard the ground realities are. How fake some ‘realities’ are! How devastatingly genuine talents are being obscured in this country! How much close an ordinary small town girl like me could get in touch with the pinnacle and lose it for being genuine! I wouldn’t have minded if I was rejected just because there were more talented people. I am concerned only because even people whom I found as more talented than me, got rejected for no reason! We are singers. We are musicians and music is what we breathe all through our life. I swear that no audition politics can take out the music from us.
Now, as I gaze along the accolades and awards in my showcase, I just think who I am.
I searched for reasons.
I don’t possess any special skills.
I don’t compromise.
I don’t have the pleasing factor of entertainment.
I am not an appealing kind.
And above all, I DON’T HAVE STORIES.
But, I should thank them. Because, now, I DO HAVE A STORY.
The story of an ordinary normal Indian girl from a small town.
The story of an uncompromising dreamer.
The story of a struggling musician.
The story of a struggling woman.
The story of genuine music.
Now I feel relieved. I have emerged stronger. I see my family out there welcoming me as usual. I see my friends loving me as usual. I see my teacher loving me more than before. I see the world as quite normal. Everything is fine in the world of art. Everything strikes the chord at the right time and when you are in sync with the universal time, there comes the music of your soul. Now I am listening to the music of my soul. Here on wards, I will never wait for anything. I just love the process but not the achievements. I don’t want anything for granted and I don’t want people to take me for granted as well. My awards are nothing but my invaluable audience who enjoys me singing. I owe my soul to my audience. I owe my life to music and that’s what I am here for and I will always be. Whatever comes in between, I don’t mind and I will be a singer for sure. Genuine talents will get recognized beyond the world of judgments.
To all those fellow musicians out there, I would like to say that, the world is out there for you- cheering up, waiting for your voice. Render your voice, do it for them. Do it for music but not for the fake games. Don’t waste your life in proving yourself before an unworthy crowd. Luck never comes as such. It comes through blessings. It comes through perseverance.
Remember, at the right place, at the right time, with the right people,

                                                              (-as narrated by Reshma Raghavendra)  

FOOTNOTE: Reality Shows of various kind had always been an inevitable part of the Television and the entertainment media across the globe since its inception. No wonder that the mainstream Indian and local channels kept successfully mimicking the west in various aspects. Reality Shows have provided great exposures to various genuine talents across the country which is a great fact. It has helped in bringing a lot of genuine talents from the unseen corners of the country to the limelight. However, the intended purpose of this perspective write up is not to demean any channels or shows as a whole, but just to point out certain shady realities and non genuine aspects that gets worked behind which abstract the genuine talents to a great extent. 

When my friend Reshma, who expressed her pathetic personal experiences, after attending the audition of 'one of the most prestigious reality shows' in the country, I found a story in it which I felt should never be left untold. I think this is not just the story of my friend, but this also is the same story of any Indian girl who goes through various struggles to reach the top. Thus, I decided to put up this as a story to throw some light into the issue, where Reshma had provided me with the necessary feeds and she was more like a co-author in this process and I would like to extend my gratitude towards her for helping me to complete this and appreciate her for being so bold, so as to get it done without abstracting her identity as well, which I think is really admirable.


Picture courtesy: Internet
(Picture for representational purpose only)

30 Mar 2018

The faulty system of education v/s CBSE paper leak - Rahul Sharma

I wasn't that prompt in blogging since a couple of months. Yet, now I am not that happy in making a post since the content here is not that graceful. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had an opportunity to have my schooling under various syllabuses -say both CBSE as well as the Kerala State! If I am not wrong, approximately 9 to 10 years had passed since we had written our 10th standard board exams under CBSE. There was a time when CBSE was viewed as a prideful system of education. Even the kids of my generation (say born in late '80s or '90s) could relate themselves to the royal reign of CBSE. There was a time when the people in the neighborhood kept asking us like " Oye you belong to CBSE?" and if we say "Yes" then from the very next moment, they would start passing a look as if we belong to 'that class of the society' called "the modern upper middle class or the pretended society". There were talks like the CBSE v/s State v/s the ICSE among the local educated families and kids would debate over the royal standards of their own varied syllabuses and bargain over it and that was a common scene in the evening tuition classes.

Whatever, CBSE had always been a pillar to the Indian Education system since1960s. It had revised the textbooks and syllabuses many a number of times since its inception. I guess students still follow the same set of textbooks that we had followed back a decade ago. In the mean time, it had introduced various changes in the examination pattern and marking as well.

However, as per the recent turn ups such as the leakage of the question papers, I guess CBSE has to become more vigilant so as to keep up its credibility. It is their huge responsibility to bring back the trust which the students had in them. It is so devastating to know that the question paper leakages has now become a trending issue for each and every exams such as the SSC, Railways and various other recruitment exams. Yet, the filthy attack of the cheaters on one of the largest education boards of the nation is quite alarming.Where is the fault? What leads to such practices? It is heard that various coaching institutes too have their involvements in these question paper leakages. Primarily, we can see that the issue is nothing, but the unhealthy spirit of competition. Earlier, the competition prevailed among the studious kids and class toppers, but right now, the dirty spirit of unhealthy competition had spread its wings over the educators and parents as well. Coaching institutes take pride over their results and flaunt it on the the newspaper advertisements. 

On the other hand, teaching or educating and learning has become a mechanized process over the past decade to a large and vulnerable extend. According to the current scenario, students are viewed as clients while the educational institutions are seen as business organizations. This has turned into a corporate magma at national and international levels. 

Where are we going? The fee structure of IIM-A has increased from 4 lakhs to 21+ lakhs over the past 9 years. Same the case with the engineering and medicine as well. These days, everyone out there is either an engineer or a doctor. For Christ's sake, me too a software engineer, yet a literature bug by passion and profession. How many engineers work in their core area? How many MBBS grads manage to do an MD in their area of interest? The Indian system of education makes everyone a graduate, say merely with almost zero productivity. The question paper leakage has to be viewed in par with the overall faulty system of the Indian Education System itself. I remember someone said: "The Indian Education System lacks two things- Education and System! If someone manages to cross these odds, he or she will try to escape from India and this is the trend here". One cannot blame the students for following such trends. 

Personally, I have done my engineering just to realize what other things I could really do. I see many of my 'Engineered' friends working as a 'Software Engineer' irrespective of their trades! I have got friends who work in the banking sector after their engineering graduation. I know an MBBS graduate who is aspiring to become an actor. I know an economist doing social work in Bangalore and I know a literature graduate who had turned into a painter as well. I wondered once when a microbiologist friend of mine said that he wanted to do sound engineering after his degree. I even know a guy from Jodhpur who took up farming after dropping his degree Thus goes the scene and there is no mistake in any of these cases. The problem lies with the system of education where a single day could decide one's entire life. The entire future of a person depends upon a one day's performance and that too is mainly based on his/her ability to mug up raw and theoretical facts. Generally, irrespective of the syllabuses and courses, most of the examinations in India are more like a memory test and this has led to the abstraction of many a number of genuine talents in various fields.

The Indian system of education is still not free from the Mc Caulay's system, which was once introduced by the British, so as to produce enough number of clergymen for their service. This has led to the deterioration of the natural learning skills of a person, which was prominent in India during the Gupta era. This doesn't mean that we have to go back to the ancient system of 'gurukula', but this implies that specialized learning should be implemented on a larger scale. The system has to be changed. Unless we bring such changes which includes pragmatic learning and skill development in the grass root level, projects like 'Start up India, Stand up India' would remain just within taglines and campaigns. Also, our system is not bothered enough about character development and social behavioral skills of the students. Sex education, awareness about cleanliness and life skill learning are of much poor quality in a practical sense and it is so demeaning to know that a country with such a large population getting unaware of basic life and social skills. Most of the academicians in the private sector turn their blind eye towards these issues since it won't provide them 'returns' on an investment basis. On the other hand, here, in such a competitive world, where you apply for a job or course, you have at least 10 lakh people waiting for the same in the queue with you and when all of you are being evaluated on a single day's performance, which is immensely based upon reproducing acquired knowledge and facts from memories, there would be a natural tendency to stamp the person next to you. This tendency, on a wider and much intense situation, can turn into cheating and other sort of malpractices where the demand is much larger than the supply. Today, 10th standard and 12th standard means nothing other than scoring high marks and getting a good entrance rank and we don't really know where we are 'ENTERING' into!

When coaching institutions and corporate organizations in this field gets the taste of the business boom in this area, it can have certain negative impacts as well where a parallel underworld could be formed. The coaching institutes, private schools and other organizations are also the part of the same level playing field. There will always be a person around the vehicle driving test ground whom you could secretly bribe and manage to get the license without taking the test. Similarly, there would be a person wandering somewhere around most of the red-tape affected government offices who would help you to get your work done with a simple bribe. Undoubtedly, the education system is also corrupted in the same manner. A lot of private schools manage to get affiliation with much less facilities by bribing the boards for a recognition. Teachers are of less qualified and qualified teachers are underpaid as well. The worst case scenario is found magnified in the private sector.

We cannot blame the entire private sector at all. But, the voided system has to be blamed instead. When a question paper gets leaked, lakhs of students are affected. Lakhs of students could lose their faith in the system. How worse the situation could be, where the one being evaluated loses his/her trust in the system of evaluation! The CBSE is currently going through such a phase since such an incident is always inexcusable on any grounds. This is a social issue and need to be approached apolitically. Only an apolitical and diligent approach with a welcoming call for change in the entire education system could bring an effective and positive change. Otherwise, betting and mark-fixing days are not that far in the education field also!

It is to be noted that when there are lakhs of children who cannot have access to schooling due to poverty and various physical impairments, here comes another extreme where the entire educational  system itself is hanging on false fixtures! In either ways, all of us are equally responsible since all of us remain as a part of the system. Let us think different, act different and move different. As Tagore had said, let the nation awake at the point - "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free."

- Rahul Sharma
Pic courtesy: Internet

18 Jan 2018

മനുഷ്യപക്ഷം - Justice_For_Sreejith - By Rahul Sharma

ഈ മനുഷ്യന്റെ സമരം ഏതാണ്ട് ഒരു വർഷം മുമ്പാണ് ഞാൻ ആദ്യമായി വാർത്തയിൽ കാണുന്നത്. മറ്റേതൊരു സാധാരണക്കാരനെയും പോലെ എന്നെയും ഈ വാർത്ത സ്പർശിച്ചു. എങ്കിലും, 26/11 ഭീകരാക്രമണം പോലെ, ഡൽഹി കൂട്ടബലാത്സംഗക്കേസ് പോലെ, വ്യക്തിപരമായി ബാധികാത്തിരുന്നതിനാൽ ഞാനും ഇത് മറന്നു. പെട്രോൾ വില, ഡീമോണിറ്റൈസേഷൻ, അടുത്ത വെള്ളിയാഴ്ച്ച ഇറങ്ങുന്ന സിനിമകൾ, IPL, ISL എല്ലാം തിരഞ്ഞുപിടിച്ച് വായിച്ചിരുന്ന വാർത്തകൾ. അപ്പോഴും ശ്രീജിത്ത് എന്ന ഈ സഹോദരൻ തന്റെ സഹോദരന്റെ മരണത്തിനുത്തരവാദികളായവർക്ക് എതിരെ നടപടി വേണമെന്ന ആവശ്യവുമായി സമരപ്പന്തലിൽ തന്നെയായിരുന്നു. ഇദ്ദേഹം ഇവിടെ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു. നമ്മളും ഇവിടെ തന്നെ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു. അല്ലെങ്കിലും ഇറോം ഷർമിളയുടെ നിരാഹാര സമരത്തേക്കാൾ നമ്മൾ ശ്രദ്ധിച്ചിരുന്നത് കപട നേതാക്കളുടെ വാക്കുകളായിരുന്നു.

ശ്രീജിത്തിന്റെ സമരം 400ഉം 500 ഉം കഴിഞ്ഞ് 767 ദിവസം പിന്നിട്ടിരിക്കുന്നു. നിരാഹാരം ഇന്നേക്ക് 35 ആം ദിവസം. ശ്രീജിത്ത് ഇവിടെ കിടന്നിരുന്നപ്പോൾ കേരളം മാറിമറിഞ്ഞു. അതിനൊപ്പം ഞാനും. ആ കുറ്റബോധം പിന്നീട്  വർദ്ധിച്ചു. അങ്ങനെയാണ് ഇന്ന്, ഉച്ച തിരിഞ്ഞ് അധികം ആളും ബഹളവും മാധ്യമകോലാഹലങ്ങളും ഇല്ലാത്ത നേരം നോക്കി ഞാനും അവിടം വരെ ഒന്ന് ചെല്ലാൻ തീരുമാനിച്ചത്. ചെന്ന് കൈകൊടുത്തു, സംസാരിച്ചു. ഒരേ കഥ ഒരേ പോലെ ഒരു നൂറ് പേരോട് വിശദീകരിച്ചു ക്ഷീണിച്ച ശ്രീജിത്ത് എന്ന സഹോദരനോട് കൂടുതലൊന്നും ചോദിക്കാൻ തോന്നിയില്ല. എന്നാൽ, എന്റെ പ്രതീക്ഷയെ തകിടം മറിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് വാക്കുകളിൽ ദൃഢത നിലനിർത്തിക്കൊണ്ട് ശ്രീജിത്തും സുഹൃത്തുക്കളും കാര്യങ്ങൾ വിശദീകരിച്ചു തന്നു. അവരുടെ ആ സമീപനത്തിൽ ഞാൻ അലിഞ്ഞു ചേർന്നു. ഒരു മണിക്കൂറോളം ഞാനും അവിടെ സമരപ്പന്തലിൽ ചിലവഴിച്ചു. സെക്രട്ടേറിയറ്റിന് മുന്നിൽ അരാഷ്ട്രീയപരമായ (പാർട്ടിയില്ലാത്ത ) ഇത്തരം സമരപ്പന്തലിൽ ഇരിക്കുന്നത് മറ്റൊരു അനുഭവം തന്നെയാണ്. അതനുഭവിക്കണം. തിരുവനന്തപുരം നഗരം നിങ്ങൾക്കുമുമ്പിലൂടെ ഓടിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കും. KSRTC ബസുകൾ, ജോലിക്ക് പോവുന്ന ആളുകൾ, ബസ് കാത്ത് നിൽക്കുന്നവർ,  വഴിയോര വാണിഭക്കാർ, പഠിക്കാൻ പോവുന്ന കുട്ടികൾ, ജാഥ, സമരം, പോലീസ്, ലാത്തിച്ചാർജ്. സൂര്യൻ അസ്തമിക്കും, വീണ്ടും ഉദിക്കും, മഴ പെയ്യും, വെയിൽ വരും. എന്നാൽ സമരപ്പന്തലുകളിൽ ചലിക്കാത്ത ലോകമാണ്. ഇവിടെ ഭൂമി കറങ്ങുന്നില്ല. ആയുസ്സിന്റെ നല്ലകാലം കളയാൻ തയ്യാറായി നിൽക്കുന്ന സമരക്കാർ. അവിടെയുണ്ട് ശ്രീജിത്തും. 2014 May മാസത്തിന് ശേഷം ശ്രീജിത്തിന്റെ ലോകം കറങ്ങിയിട്ടില്ല. ചലനമില്ല. തിരസ്കരിക്കപ്പെടുന്ന നീതി. സ്വന്തം സഹോദരന്റെ മരണത്തിന്റെ ഉത്തരവാദികൾക്കെതിരെ നടപടിയെടുക്കണം. 10 ലക്ഷം രൂപ നഷ്ടപരിഹാരമായി ലഭിച്ചിട്ടും നീതിക്ക് വേണ്ടി ഇങ്ങനെ സ്വയം മരിക്കണോ എന്ന് ചിലരെയെങ്കിലും പോലെ ഞാനും സംശയിച്ചിരുന്നു. അവിടെയാണ് ഈ മുൻ Mr. TRIVANDRUM ത്തിന്റെ മനഃശക്തി ഞാൻ കാണുന്നത്. ഗാന്ധിജിയും, ബുദ്ധനും സഞ്ചരിച്ചപോലെ സമ്പത്തിനും സ്ഥാനത്തിനും മുകളിലായി നീതി ലഭിക്കുക എന്ന ഒറ്റ ആവശ്യത്തിനായി തപസ്സനുഷ്ഠിക്കുന്ന ഒരു ബുദ്ധസന്യാസിയായി മാറിയിരിക്കുന്നു ഇന്ന് ശ്രീജിത്ത്. ഈച്ചരവാര്യർക്ക് ലഭിക്കാതെ പോയതും ഇതേ 'നീതി' ആണ്. ശ്രീജിത്ത് ഒരു പ്രതീകമാണ്. ഇന്ന് ഞാനും നിങ്ങളുമടങ്ങുന്ന പലരെയും തന്റെ ഇച്ഛാശക്തിയാൽ ഇദ്ദേഹം തോൽപ്പിച്ചു കളഞ്ഞിരിക്കുന്നു. ന്യായം എന്ത് തന്നെയെങ്കിലും ആവട്ടെ, നീതി എന്നൊന്ന് ഉണ്ട്. അതിന് വേണ്ടിയാണ് ശ്രീജിത്തിന്റെ പോരാട്ടം. ഇദ്ദേഹത്തിന് ഇപ്പോഴും ഈ നാട്ടിലെ നീതിന്യായ വ്യവസ്ഥകളിലും സർക്കാരുകളിലും പൂർണ്ണമായ വിശ്വാസമുണ്ട്. ഒരു പക്ഷേ നമ്മളാരെക്കാളും. ഇനി വൈകില്ല. നീതി ലഭിക്കുക തന്നെ ചെയ്യും എന്നെന്റെ മനസ്സ് വീണ്ടും വീണ്ടും പറഞ്ഞുകൊണ്ടിരുന്നു. ഈ സമരത്തിൽ ഞാനും ഉണ്ട്. നമ്മളോരോരുത്തരും ഉണ്ടാവണം. ഇടതുപക്ഷമില്ല,  വലതുപക്ഷമില്ല, മനുഷ്യപക്ഷമാണ് ഉള്ളത്. ഈ കാര്യത്തിൽ അതുള്ള ഏത് പക്ഷത്തും ഞാനുമുണ്ട്.
യാത്ര പറഞ്ഞിറങ്ങുമ്പോൾ ഇനിയും ഇതേ സമരപ്പന്തലിൽ ഇതേപോലെ ഇദ്ദേഹത്തെ ഇനിയും കാണേണ്ടിവരരുതെ എന്ന് മനസ്സിൽ ആത്മാർത്ഥമായി ആഗ്രഹിച്ചു. അതേ ആത്മാർത്ഥതയോട് കൂടി ഞാനുമിപ്പോൾ പറയുന്നു  #ശ്രീജിത്തിനൊപ്പം
ഞാൻ ഇപ്പോൾ വീട്ടിലെത്തി ; നിങ്ങളും എവിടെയെങ്കിലുമൊക്കെ എത്തിക്കാണും; ഈ പോസ്റ്റ് വായിച്ചുകഴിഞ്ഞാൽ ലൈക്കോ ഷെയറോ ചെയ്ത് നിങ്ങളും പോവും. അപ്പോഴും ശ്രീജിത്ത് എന്ന പോരാളി അവിടെത്തന്നെയുണ്ട് എന്ന് നാം ഓർക്കണം. വരച്ചും, വായിച്ചും, ത്യാഗങ്ങൾ സഹിച്ചും.  ഒറ്റയാൾ സമരങ്ങൾ വിജയിച്ച പാരമ്പര്യമുള്ള നാടാണിത്. അതോർക്കുമ്പോളാണ്  പ്രതീക്ഷ. ഈ സഹോദരന് നീതി ലഭിക്കട്ടെ.
-Rahul Sharma
PS: Those who want the contact number of Mr. SREEJITH, pls do inbox me.

24 Dec 2017

MAYAANADHI- the bold and beautiful river (an outlook) - By Rahul Sharma

As the title says, MAYAANADHI- is nothing but a raw magical journey through that magical river of romance; which is pristine, crystal-clear, yet with an abstract course of flow. So glad to say that Aashiq Abu has succeeded in bringing the best out of him through Mayaanadhi. Shyam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair has once again proved their legacy through such a brilliant multilayered script. This would be one of the most promising and sincere love stories to appear in Malayalam in recent times and is supposed to stay as 'a pro-time classic' for pretty long time within the hearts of the audience. The film slaps on the face of all those 'so called' norms of 'fake moralities' in the society- say in a prudent manner and grabs its position with a backbone through its sincere way of storytelling sans gimmicks. It openly speaks about various strata in a man-woman relationship.

The story revolves around two characters - Mathew/Mathen (Tovino Thomas) and Aparna/Appu (Aishwarya Lekshmi) which itself is the highlight of the film because, the story just 'revolves' around the characters without getting 'into' them. Usually, while playing with romantic stuffs, scriptwriters often give catchy dialogues to their characters to render, thereby injecting their emotional status (spoon-feeding) into the minds of the audience. Unlike this usual scenario, here the scriptwriters Shyam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair and the director Aashiq Abu have tried to reduce the emotional verbose, thereby allowing the actors to perform and behave maximum in a natural way, staying within the script. Undoubtedly, this has become one of the career best performances of Tovino, say in a character role which of course is the protagonist indeed. One cannot find a single trait of 'Tovino' in 'Mathan' which makes him one of the most bankable actors from the south. Same applies with the lead actress Aishwarya too. It is hard to believe that this is her second film. Aishwarya  has marked the character 'Aparna' with a stellar performance, which is almost irreplaceable. The characters 'Mathen' and 'Appu' were absolutely safe within the hands of Tovino and Aishwarya respectively. The duos had lived on screen even with perfect micro expressions bound to the script and we are so graceful to watch  such emerging lead artists performing on screen.

Music by Rex Vijayan was so synchronized with the pace of the film which did never appear as a mere filler. It did hit the marquee with the ethereal voice of Shahabaz Aman, which was mind pulling. Songs 'Kaattil..' and "Thoni niranju... pranan kavinju...." will never leave the ears of the audience even after they leave the theaters. Costumes by Sameera Sanish deserves a well applause for making the film colorful without loosing its true sense. Cinematographer Jayesh Mohan has done a good job in capturing the 'most wanted' moments with proper sense and last but not least, editor Saiju Sreedharan deserves an applause for making such a multi-layered romance flick interesting and engaging with prompt and proper cuts.

In fact, Mayaanadhi is a brave and stand out attempt from a vibrant and voracious crew under Aashiq Abu. He has once again emphasized his position as one of the most talented directors from the south. Now, the audience are to go with the flow of the river and engross the feel in its true sense. If Mayaanadhi gets a warm welcome, then that would certainly mark a new beginning of live and sincere attempts from more and more writers, directors and actors out there in the industry. Ashiq Abu has proved it before with his second movie- 'Salt and pepper' and now the flow has taken a new course and let this be a stand out deed.

Hats off- Team MAYAANADHI , for giving a promising and sincere watch.

-By Rahul Sharma

16 Nov 2017

QARIB QARIB SINGLLE- feel fresh, free and fine! (an outlook) - by Rahul Sharma

QARIB QARIB SINGLLE- Got to watch yet another movie, directed by Tanuja Chandra from the house of JAR Pictures. So glad to say that Bollywood Rom-Com is still fresh and smooth when it gets into the right hands.  Tanuja Chandra and Gazal Dhaliwal had written the screenplay for the story by Kamna Chandra. Undoubtedly, Qarib Qarib Singlle (almost single) is one of the best movies of the year, with a brilliant screenplay and splendid performances of the lead actors- Irrfan Khan and Parvathy Thiruvoth.

Romantic comedies and journeys had always been one of the favorite genres of the Bollywood. But this one, is a real stand out and strikes the chord with few of those classic movies ever made. The script is so well written in such a way that one would feel like as if he/she is sitting in between the characters within. Viewers could easily connect and travel with 'Jaya' and 'Yogi'. Actors Irrfan Khan and Parvathy have done a splendid job on screen by living as 'Yogi' and 'Jaya' respectively. Parvathy, being one of the finest actresses from Malayalam, was so brilliant on screen in such a way that it never makes one feel  that this was her debut film in Hindi! She plays a Mumbai settled 'mallu' girl, while Irrfan plays a romantic vagabond with a layered background. Irrfan, of course needs no introduction and was really mind blowing. Irrfan and Parvathy were irreplaceable in the film.

The story picks up with the most modern relationship styles, say with the dating apps of modern days and takes us to the real ethnicity of human bonding. It deals with the perspectives of both- the man as well as the woman included in a relationship. It shows 'that' point of time when one could find oneself being in a relationship and the movie speaks a lot about the 'attitude of letting things go'. Ideas like - "Apni dil ki baat suniye" (Listen to the voice of your heart), "Jo karo, dil se karo" (Whatever you do, do it with your heart) and "Living in the moment" are few of those ideologies which many of the Bollywood film makers do try to establish through their stories but often end up with cliches and gimmicks where once the movie comes to an end, the characters cease to exist within the minds of the people. This is where QQS makes a difference. The movie is 100% fresh, sincere and natural and the makers can feel proud of it. Even the music by Vishal Mishra and the poetic lyrics by Hussain Haidry stays within the story and goes with the mood. It just vindicates the subtle concepts and the inner whirls of the characters-especially the song "jaane de" - towards the climax. Even the cinematography by Eeshith Narain was so crystallized in such a way that it had captured the whole life of the film sans gimmicks.

On a crispy note, QQS is a quiet, simple, feel good, cool and classy dish- being served fresh. It proves that Bollywood romance is still fresh sans heavy budget, item songs, glamour shows, foreign trips and unwanted fillers. Films like Qarib Qarib Singlle, Shaadi Main Zaroor Aana etc. should be welcomed in such a way that it would lay an offset for the upcoming range of Bollywood Romcoms.

PS: Special thanks- Tanuja Chandra, Gazal Dhaliwal, Shailja Kejriwal, Alan McAlex and Ajai Rai
- Rahul Sharma.
(pic courtesy: Jar Pictures)

2 Oct 2017

GANDHI Lives Here - Rahul Sharma

He was a phenomenon. Let me say, probably this would be the most demanding moment for a person like him. The current world needs a Gandhi. The present India is missing him more than like anytime in history. Some would tend to ask whether Gandhian ideas can have any more practical implications in today's world. My answer to them is nothing lesser to a hammering YES. Sometimes, the world itself requires a bit of introspection. There is hardly anyone who could have done so much of introspection into one's self as he had! As far as the Indian scenario is concerned, today, we live in a rotten broth of political insecurity. A political spectra that gets enlightened towards the right side so as to set the nation ablaze with fascism lies on one side; The left side of the political spectra has turned into a headless chicken with too many plucked feathers in it! INTOLERANCE has engulfed the entire system as a whole. Yet, when we see that round face with specs on a newly made 200 rupee note, the INDIAN hope starts regaining its strength. It vindicates that someone is there to check these out! Yes, that is the Gandhian principle. It remains as a 'scale zero' in the entire world politics. It helps someone to move towards either sides along an imaginary scale of ideologies.
Today, as I stood in front of Raj Ghat, say one of the most sacred monuments of modern India, being carefully maintained; I feel like the air here is pretty much positive so that once an Indian comes here, he will get that vibe which keeps on radiating within him. This is Gandhi. The Gandhiji. The man who lived his words. The man who was an epitome of self-introspection. The man who had passed with a lantern of smile that throws the light of non-violence all over the world becomes relevant in this age of narcissistic politicians.
As I stepped out of Raj Ghat, Somewhere along the opposite side, just in front of Raj Ghat, I saw an uneducated U.P native, trying hard to pull a heavy cycle rickshaw (inset) that left me orphaned of all those ideologies I had learned through books. I was in that rare sort of trans state while I plugged my headphones in and played this song from Rang de Basanti: "Luka chuppi, bahut hui.... saamne aa jaa naa...."
Thank you Mahathma
Pic Courtesy: Valsala Mundott <3