“Bharat mein doodh kee nadiyan behtee hain (In India, milk gushes forth like streams)” This is the sort of stuff one read in schoolbooks, watched in Manoj Kumar’s films and I think I may have even sung some sort of anthem in school’s morning assembly sessions. Anyway, what I studied and watched and sang as a kid is what I believe — finally — today as an adult.
Oh yes, India is the land where milk is in abundance – I only buy tetra-pack stuff and even keep milk powder just in case my pet dog — or I — have midnight cravings for it. India is also the land where you’ll find the right stuff to mix in the milk too. No, not just coffee, there’ll be Maltova, Bournvita, Boost, Horlicks - for kids, growing kids and women too - besides others. Then there’s hot chocolate, cold coffee, ice-cream, dahi, probiotic milk, there’s everything.
Now, logically, I wish, I’d learnt that India was also the land where simple H20 too gushed from the zillions of streams. In Delhi’s Saket area, where I’ve been residing for the past one-and-a-half years, you’ll find everything, milk (okay, fine, I’m saying it the last time), Bisleri bottles (in 1- 2- 5- and 20-litre bottles respectively), Baskin Robbins, Häagen-Dazs, gelatos and what have you. And there’ll be healthy juices served at your doorstep from the neighbourhood grocery store.
But, but, but… there’s no water here. At least in the area where we live (where “kothis” cost over Rs 1 crore easily) there’s never any water. Ever.
Our area’s “water slot” is from 3-5 am and 3-5 pm respectively. Since we’re a working couple, the question of filling water (except on Sundays when there’s usually no electricity) in the afternoon doesn’t arise so what do we do? Wake up every other day and start our day at 4 am, fill water for an hour and then try and catch up on our sleep. I hate it and never before have I had this urge to turn housewife, just for the sake of ensuring there’s enough water in the house to last at least a week.
The domestic staff is already calling us a mad, water-obsessed couple. I’m beginning to see why I hate all those serials and films where the hero looks forlorn into the mirror while the water from the tap fills up the sink. (Mr Ramadoss, forget smoking, someone should ban this). I feel like putting buckets of water when rain sequences are shown on TV. I don’t feel like swimming in the Sports Complex pool (actually,I don’t know how to swim), instead, I want to bring buckets and fill water for my home. I get excited when I see coloured buckets, drums in shops and even dreamt some days ago that I was filling my semi-automatic washing machine with water. Oh, and I hate the growing pile of dirty clothes but there’s precious little that one can do, not when there isn’t enough water. I feel nervous inviting guests over, wondering how many times they’ll go to freshen up, how many times they would need to wash their hands, how often will their children beg to “please, can we splash water in the sink aunty”.
Yes, in my life, I plan - no, not the menu - for parties (if there are any) just how much water needs to be there when guests arrive. My home is a growing chaos of baltis and drums and chilumchees but then that’s too bad. Taking showers is a strict no-no. We only take baths with the good ‘ol balti – (not more than 10 magaas; that’s my count). Even when I need to check if water is flowing in the taps, I make sure to collect it in a mug and transfer it to another bucket. Shekhar Kapur wanted to make a film on the water crisis, I’d heard. Maybe he could pay my humble home a visit and start his research.
Oh, by the way, did I tell anyone that I’m now used to washing my face with mineral water?
Director Anurag Kashyap walked up to director/actor/anchor/rock singer Farhan Akhtar and said, “Your sister has outshone you. She’s had a fabulous debut with Luck By Chance. She’s number one, you’re number two.” Farhan replies: “Yes, we decided to keep it in the family.”
I saw Luck By Chance and Dev.D recently and couldn’t stop wondering as to how incredible 2009 will be for “indie” films. I met an ad professional in Delhi’s messy Nehru Place and guess what, he was a producer too (for a Rs 5 crore film Jugaad. The film was destined to flop, it didn’t look right but the producer insisted that he had looked into the logistics and that he would recover the amount. But more importantly, he said, he wanted to tell a story (the film tells his own story, the producer had said to me). “It couldn’t have been possible in any other era. It’s only now that even I can thump my chest proudly and say, ‘Yeah, I’ve made this film.’” And he gives me glowing examples of many others like him; an IIT graduate, a mass communication instructor, a graduate, an LA-based software engineer; all individuals who want to produce or direct films. Forget, for a moment, the fate of these films at the BO. Isn’t it simply fascinating that we are living in an era where people like you and I can actually dream of writing scripts, directing and even funding movies? Why, I find it doable to actually sit with a bunch of like-minded friends for a get-together, work on an engaging script and chip in to even fund a film. What’s more, in today’s day and age, it just might work and who knows, we could even break even.
No wonder then that the “Indie” fest in India is a mini-industry in itself. You’ll have Abhay Deol working on films that he believes in, you’ll have Farhan Akhtar acting in films despite the fact that he doesn’t have the face of a “conventional” good-looking hero (if you know what I mean). Then there’ll be directors like Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Neeraj Pandey, Sriram Raghavan who’ll make films that are closest to their hearts, scripts that appeal to them. Talk to the makers of this kind of cinema and they’ll tell you that it’s way to early for the “indie” movement to take off (Deol even said that our industry is now at a stage where Hollywood was in the 70s). But most of them are happy that they’re experiencing celluloid at their own pace, in their own style.
And to feel the charm of the celluloid spill over to individuals like you and me is even more fascinating. So if there’s a story in your head, take it seriously and translate it into a visual delight. Who knows, you could be toasting it in the next film festival in LA!