Six utterly brainless but eternal Bollywood plots … or Picture abhi baaki hai.

Trishul-19781Before watching a Bollywood movie, leave your brains at home. Bollywood’s plots do not challenge your intelligence, and they have remained unchanged since the days of Dadasaheb Phalke. Here are six such undying plots. With minor variations, you will see these eternal classics in almost any Bolly movie.

1) The Incredibly Accurate Tactile Pregnancy Test, or, ‘Mubarak ho …’

Right in the middle of her marriage ceremony, the heroine swoons. A doctor is readily available on the spot complete with stethoscope and medical kit. He lightly touches swooned heroine on her wrist and loudly announces, “Mubarak ho. Yeh maa banne waali hai”.

Pandemonium breaks out, the groom and his father are livid, the bride’s father gets a fatal heart attack, the bride’s boyfriend is revealed as the impregnator and is beaten to a pulp and dumped into river. Impregnated heroine raises out-of-wedlock child by washing vessels, swabbing floors or building massive buildings with bare hands. Out-of-wedlock child becomes grim loner and plots deadly revenge. After two decades, pulped boyfriend returns as an internationally famous multi-billionaire, sees the girlfriend he impregnated begging outside a temple (but who still looks ultra-hot in spite of dire poverty and age). Tearful reunion follows. Unfortunately, hero is already married and has several legitimate children. Hero tries to keep his two families separate, but violent clashes occur, leading to the aged hero’s grievous injury or heart attack. Pending issues are hastily resolved between warring families and a hasty reconciliation follows, just as hero breathes his last.

2) The Fantastic Total Eye Transplant, or, ‘Ab dheere dheere ankhen kholiye’.anuraag_1326889403

Hero has sister/mother/helpless friend who is totally blind. The eye specialist demands an astronomical sum to restore eyesight. Hero goes on a looting spree, but takes care to steal only from the rich and corrupt, gets caught by the cops, and is shot or hanged. Before he dies, he ensures that his eyes are donated to blind sister/mother/friend. In a simple one-minute operation, the eye doctor performs the world’s first double total eye transplant.

After healing within twenty four hours, and opening eyes slowly, slowly as ordered by doctor, the fortunate recipient demands to see the hero first, only to be shown a large photo of late hero with a garland around it. Recipient bursts into tears, and is promptly shown a letter by late hero stating that he did not donate eyes for the purpose of crying. Recipient then smiles bravely and goes on to become a major success in life.

hqdefault3) The Vein to Vein Direct Blood Transfusion, or, ‘Khoon khoon hota hai, paani nahi’.

Elderly woman is in critical condition, following horrific road accident. Victim has a rare blood type, that is unheard of in medical history and is to be found only in the victim’s offspring, all of whom have been missing since decades. Turns out however, that the doctor’s chaiwallah has the same blood group. And chaiwallah in turn knows a friend with the same blood group. And that friend in turn has a neighbor with that very blood group, and so on. All blood donors are rushed to hospital and doctor saves victim’s life by directly transferring blood from donors to victim with some plastic tubes. After elderly woman sucks up enough blood, she stages a full recovery. It occurs to no one that donors and recipient might be related, and they go their separate ways. They all stumble on the truth at the very end of the movie. On the way, the long-lost offspring demolish the villains who were responsible for offspring becoming long-lost, and pick up brides/grooms, to save the elderly mother the trouble of getting them married off.

4) The Mind-boggling Divine Restoration, or, ‘Patient ko dava nahin, dua ki zaroorat hai’.Deewar

Impoverished hero has a parent with a terrifying incurable disease like cancer/weak heart/renal failure/paralysis/all of these. Hero decides to become deadly criminal to make enough money to save loved one. Impoverished hero turned deadly criminal meets decent girl who teaches him the error of his ways with one or two inspirational songs. Reformed hero takes decent girl home to seek dying parent’s blessings for marriage, and finds that parent is struggling for life in hospital. Reformed hero has no money in hand, since he gave back all that he stole, thanks to his decent girl friend. Penniless hero cannot afford pharmaceutical products, and so he rushes to nearest religious shrine, where he delivers a stirring tirade against the resident deity or performs a very vigorous devotional dance number that culminates in bells clanging, thunder and lightning, earth shaking, and complete recovery of dying parent. Marriage between hero and decent girl then ensues.

With appropriate modifications, the same plot applies in case of impoverished heroine with dying parent. Except that, instead of becoming a deadly criminal, the impoverished heroine decides to sell herself to leering, pot-bellied businessmen.

5) The Even more Mind-boggling Divine Reunion, or, ‘Bhagwan tera laakh laakh shukar hai’.yaadon-ki-baarat-wallpaper

Law-abiding parents with multiple offspring lead a blissful life in a cute cottage. One fine day, parents teach offspring their family’s signature song, just in case they get separated in the near future. Alternatively, they give each child one piece of a precious heirloom that must be worn around the neck at all times. Parents’ foresight proves sensible. One day later, they are slain by intruders. Children get dispersed across the nation, each is conveniently found and raised by nice couples who are conveniently childless themselves. Children grow up, all move to Bombay, and take up residences within walking distance of each other. So happens that all the villains who dispersed the children are also in Bombay, also within walking distance of each other. Eventually, villains and dispersed children wind up in the same room, children exchange verses of their signature song or join up their pieces of the family heirloom, and then proceed to slaughter villains, following which they saunter off into the sunset, without worrying about minor issues like the police and the law.

madhumati-climax-th6) The Justice-seeking Relentless Reincarnation, or, “Janam janam ka saath hai”.

My personal favorite this. Nasty, greedy zamindar or lustful king casts his evil eyes on hapless hero’s real estate or his curvaceous girlfriend’s curves. Curvy girlfriend is molested or jumps off a cliff to prevent molestation, while hero is beaten, burnt, buried under rubble or meets a similar agonising death. An instant before agonising death, hero and/or girlfriend snarl at the villain and promise to return in the next life and keep returning in subsequent lives until justice is done.

A few years later, hero and curvy girlfriend reincarnate, and live in different parts of the country.

The reincarnated protagonists do not remember who they are, and lead normal lives. Until one day, due to a knock on the head, or a similar traumatising mechanism, they suddenly recollect intimate details about their past life. Then they both revisit the place of their death and proceed to search for the villain, who is now an aged man but still a lecher and a creep nevertheless. A ferocious showdown occurs and the villain is usually killed off by a chandelier or something equally heavy falling on his head or by impaling himself on a sharp object, so that the hero has no legal consequences.

Reincarnated hero and heroine then proceed to consummate their undying relationship and, presumably, stop reincarnating themselves henceforth.

Mix and match these plots in any manner you please, throw in an item number by Katrina Kaif, add a comedy scene by Mallika Sherawat speaking in English, and you can become a famous movie maker yourself. If SRK can, so can you!

Cheers … Srini.

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Bullies, beware!

I know a lot about bullies … thanks to certain outstanding bullies of my childhood in BARC quarters, Chembur, Mumbai 400071, India.

I grew up with those bullies, I lived with them for a significant part of my life – and that includes my married life. And they gave me a lot of their personal attention, and they still do, believe me.

Common myths about bullies:

1) A bully is actually a nice person. He’s just misunderstood. Sure. He’s a nice, misunderstood, poor little lost soul. All he needs is some attention. And that’s why he beats the crap out of you every day.

2) A bully is a victim too. He needs help. Sure he does. From a psychiatrist. Or a cop.

3) Bullies are always male, always physically large. Nothing is further from the truth. The two biggest bullies in my life are both less than five feet tall.  And one of them is a petite woman.

4) Bullying is just a childhood phase. Bullies grow up into nice adults. Sure. And the Moon is made of green cheese. Once a bully, always a bully.

5) Victims of childhood bullying grow up to become brilliant nerds. And star in Big Bang Theory, eh? No they don’t. They grow up to become angry adults -like ME. And there’s no telling how and where that anger will manifest itself.

6) Bullying is physically or verbally abusive in nature. Not true. In fact, the worst forms of bullying are emotional and are generally ‘silent’.

Social ostracism is a form of bullying that I am personally very familiar with and that I am still subjected to  – by the same BARC Chembur bullies that made my childhood miserable.

Bullies form their own cliques of sycophants and hangers-on. They use their cliques to emotionally abuse their victims, by blocking them out of just about every social activity – games, parties, picnics, cultural events, professional events – and of late, social media like Facebook.

7) The biggest myth of all:   Bullying victims invite bullying by their own behavior. That’s like saying that a rape victim invites rape. It’s not really the bully’s fault, we are told. The victim must have done something to be singled out.

It is utter rubbish. But that’s what many bullying victims are led to believe. I should know.

How to know if your child is a victim:  Many children do not tell their parents that they are being bullied. That’s because the bully and his clique convince the victims that it’s their fault and/or threaten your child with dire consequences.

If your child is withdrawn, spends too much time alone, is reluctant to leave the house either to play with friends or go to school, and gets agitated when asked about it, then you can be almost sure there’s a bully in your child’s life.

This is how my own childhood in BARC Quarters was – until we moved out of that bully-infested urban slum to a much better place called Anushaktinagar.

Unfortunately, a couple of years later, some of those bullies also moved to Anushaktinagar. And continued their bullying.

And now, those bullies are back again – on Facebook.

How to deal with bullying:  All bullies are cowards. It’s a cliche, but it is true. As a parent, your response therefore, must be swift, decisive and very assertive.

First of all – do not break the law. Physically intimidating the bully can lead to nasty legal issues. On the other hand, you are within your rights to threaten legal action against the bully – and his parents. It is a good idea to take legal counsel before doing anything.

That said, there is, in my experience, only one effective way to deal with your child’s bully.

And that way is – Direct public confrontation.

Bullies thrive because they think that they can get away with their behavior. Avoiding confrontation, giving the bully a cold shoulder, trying to ignore him, giving him the silent treatment, claiming that you won’t stoop down to his level, will only reinforce the bully’s beliefs and provoke him further.

Direct confrontation is the way. In public. In the presence of his sycophants. If possible, in the presence of his parents and teachers. No need to be abusive, or even raise your voice. Be polite, but tough. If his parents intervene, politely threaten them with criminal action, and tell them to back off. In my experience, a bully usually learns his behavior from his parents, in one way or the other.

Confronting the bully and his parents in public is usually the most effective deterrent. If you can, gather support from your child’s other friends and their parents.

Or best of all, see if you can convince a cop to be there. That would ensure that no one falsely accuses you of anything and will put real fear into the bully and his parents.

Bullying is just another form of rape, wouldn’t you say? And it should be dealt with just as severely.

Don’t be a victim like I was – and still am.

Cheers … Srini.

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Why do we celebrate Yugadi?

copy_of_gudi-padwa_300The Indian calendar can be baffling to many people. The gist of it is quite simple though. There are twelve months in the year and 30 or 31 days in each month. Leap years are accurately accounted for, as are other astronomical events like equinoxes and eclipses. The significant difference between the Indian calendar and the Western calendar (or the Gregorian calendar) is that our calendar follows the phases of the moon. The Western calendar follows the revolution of the Earth around the Sun.

That is why Indian festivals seem to fall on different days each year, with reference to the Gregorian calendar.

In the Indian calendar, there are certain days that are especially important, since they mark epochal events in Indian history.

The death of Krishna marks the end of an era. Kaliyuga, the age of Evil, began from the moment of Krishna’s death, and according the scriptures that day was sometime during end-March in 3102 BC. Hence, this day is called Yugadhi, the first day of an Era.

Yugadhi also marks the beginning of a new year. Unlike the Gregorian calendar that calculates the passage of each year based on the Earth’s annual revolution around the Sun, the Indian calendar is based on the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. As these two planets move through the heavens, they seem to transit across the twelve Zodiac constellations, starting with the constellation of Aries (Mesha rashi). Jupiter takes one year to move from one Zodiac constellation to the next and therefore takes twelve years to complete one round of the Zodiac. Saturn takes thirty years to complete one round. And once in sixty years, both planets wind up at the starting point, i.e. Mesha rashi, at the same time.

Hence, the Indian calendar follows a cycle of sixty years. Each year is called a Samavatsara and is assigned a specific name, like in the Chinese calendar. Last year was Jaya Samavatsara, and it began on March 31, 2014.

The new year, the 29th year in the cycle, begins today, i.e., March 21, 2015. The new year is named after Manmatha, the Hindu god of love.

Yugadhi falls on the first day of the first half of the first month in the Hindu calendar, i.e. the month of Chaitra. The official Indian calendar, that was adopted by India on March 22, 1957, and starts from that day, is based on the Shalivahana Saka.

Shalivahana, also known as Gautamiputra Satakarni, was a mighty king from the Shalivahana-8973-16Satavahana dynasty, that ruled much of South India for about four hundred years, from 230 BC to 220 AD. Shalivahana was the greatest of them, and the date of his coronation is the beginning of Shalivahana Saka. This was during the year 78 AD. The month of Chaitra is reckoned from that date.

Therefore, the Indian national calendar officially began on Chaitra 1, 1879 (Saka era) i.e. March 22, 1957 (Gregorian era).

And therefore March 31, 2015 is Yugadhi, Prathami (first day), Shukla Paskha (Bright half), Chaitra (first month of the year), Manmatha Samvatsara, Shalivahana Saka 1937, Kaliyuga (age of Kali).

Yugadi is celebrated across India. In Maharashtra, it’s celebrated as Gudi Padva.

Happy Yugadhi everyone!

Cheers … Srini.

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Dost, dost na rahaa … Six friends you must dump!

bad friend2“Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.”

Yeah. You are known by the friends you keep.

Friends, by definition, are supposed to be with you forever. But that’s not how it is in real life, is it? At some point in your life, you will wonder if some friends are worth keeping.

Then take some advice from Yours Truly, based on a lifetime’s experience of having bad friends. Each of the ‘friends’ below are real people from my life.

The friends that you should dump…

The ‘Reformed’ Bully:  He made your childhood a living hell, stole your pocket money, made you carry his bags, clean his locker, pushed you into the dirt whenever he felt like, made sure you were never selected for any games or social events.  And he probably gave you that gross and physiologically inaccurate nickname that you carried through your childhood.

After years of trauma, you finally get him out of your head – only to run into him again in adulthood. He’s mellowed with age, greets you like the dear friend that you never were, tries to get back into your life.

Psychologists and sociologists are welcome to their opinions – but there is no justification whatsoever for bullying behaviour.  And in my experience, there is no treatment for such people.

Take my word for it … once a bully, always a bully.

No matter how nice he seems to be today, dump him. A bully leaves emotional scars that last a lifetime. Your childhood bully being apparently remorseful and nice to you in your adulthood won’t erase the trauma he caused you in your formative years. His very presence in your life will remind of your childhood pain. Dump him.

If you’re so inclined, and you feel the need for closure, then confront him and let him have a large piece of your mind or a large piece of your fist (if you have a good lawyer).

And dump that son of a bachelor.

The Social Pirate:  This one is unadulterated poison. She diligently extracts intimate details of all your other friends and professional contacts, then gets herself invited to their events, and in turn invites them to her events – and cuts you out of both.

Social hijacking of this kind is far more common than you think. Such friends are difficult to catch, because they are really nice to you. They keep cutting you out, but they’re still nice to you. If such a friend is also a professional colleague or a fellow businessman, you can be sure she is stealing customers and prospects from you.

It will usually take a few months for you to realise what this friend is up to, and by that time, the damage to your social and professional life may be considerable. But as soon as you do find out – dump her. The only way to deal with an old friend who is a social hijacker is to do unto him as he would do unto you. Cut her out. Ruthlessly. Doesn’t matter how many years you’ve known her.

A real friend would never steal from you. Dump her.

The Public Jerk: This is the jerk who knows your dark secrets. The stupid antics you pulled as a kid, the teacher you were madly in love with when you were 15 years old, the time your pants fell down in school, the girlfriends (or wives) who dumped you and why they did, that wild afternoon behind the bushes with the neighbourhood tomboy, and all the other weird/kinky/possibly illegal mischief you did when you were too young to understand what you were doing.

Now, as an adult, he takes great pleasure in making you a source of entertainment for your friends and colleagues. He airs out all your dirty linen during any gathering of friends or professional contacts. And if one of your ex-flames happens to be there, then God help you.

Invariably, he or she will be the one person you’ve known from your earliest days in this world. But a long-standing friend like this who respects neither social conventions nor your privacy, must be definitely dumped.

Once, I took a childhood friend of mine to a business meet, after he begged me for an introduction to my client. He turned up ten minutes late, dressed in jeans and T-shirt, spoke only in Bambaiya slang throughout the meeting and kept addressing me as ‘Shendu’, my childhood nickname. I never allowed him to contact any of my clients, ever again.

The ‘Harmless’ Flirt.  There is no such thing as harmless flirting, especially when the flirter is your childhood friend – and the flirtee is your wife.

This is the friend who considers it his birthright to share ribald SMS jokes with your wife, ‘accidentally’ brush her arm, or give her a ‘brotherly’ hug or a ‘friendly’ peck on the cheek – and all in your presence. If that’s what happens when you’re in the house, then you really need to wonder what may happen when you’re not.

I’m not being old-fashioned or narrow-minded. There is a visible difference between the behaviour of a friend who is friendly but respectful to your spouse – and one who has something else in mind. And if you can’t make out that difference, you do not deserve to have a spouse.

Don’t blame your spouse. In most cases, she (or he) may be tolerating your friend’s behaviour just for your sake.

Blame yourself instead. And throw that SOB out of your life.

The Moral High-grounder:  A friend who judges you, is no friend. This is the friend who makes it a point to let you know what a loser you are, by constantly reminding you of (a) his five bedroom-three garage-two glorious kids-two Mexican maids-one Caucasian wife-one swimming pool mansion in Houston or Hebbal or wherever,  (b) his Vice-Presidentship in the world’s largest MNC,  (c) his personal friendship with Bill Gates/Warren Buffet/Lord of the Rings/whoever, (d) his priceless Renaissance paintings of naked women, bottles of vintage booze, his commode made of solid gold and so on.

A friend like this, who does not know or care about the hard decisions you had to make in your life, the tough choices you had to take for your loved ones, the obstacles you had to overcome, the pain that you went through to reach the modest station that you are at today, is simply not worth your while.

A friend who would judge you by your net-worth, is of absolutely no worth to you. His net-worth is more than yours, but believe me, you are far more valuable to this planet than he is.

Do your self-respect a huge favor. Dump him.

The Ex’s friend: Remember this – a mediator does not need to choose between two warring parties. A friend does.

He’s either your friend.  Or hers.  He just cannot be both. This is a fundamental fact of broken relationships.  No matter how cordial your relationship with your ex may seem to be, he or she is your enemy.  Period.  No one really ‘moves on’.  There is always residual enmity and resentment.  It is simply human nature.

And your friend needs to choose.  One cannot be equally loyal to two enemies.

Whether he chooses you over your ex, or not, is immaterial. It is entirely in your interest to know if he’s your friend or hers. If he chooses her, be thankful he showed his true colors. It really is in your interest. And if he remains undecided, then you decide. Dump him.

The Booze-head: I don’t drink. Been two decades since I last had any beverage with alcohol in it. It’s just a personal choice. There was a time though, when I did not mind watching my friends have a drink or two. I was happy to nurse a mocktail or a soft drink as they enjoyed their tippling.

However, I have a simple rule. If you can’t hold your drink, don’t drink.

Watching a friend make a drunken fool of himself in public, pacifying him as he flies into an abusive rage, holding him steady as he pukes his guts out in my lap, trying to convince him he’s too drunk to drive, somehow managing to drive him home in spite of his best efforts to kill me on the highway, and then at the end of it all, facing an angry cop or worse, his angry wife – is NOT my idea of a fun evening.

I did this far too many times for my friends, until one fine day, I told myself that enough is enough.

Keep such brainless booze-heads completely out of your life. There are better ways to commit suicide.

Integrity, loyalty and respect form the bedrock of friendship. Friends are expected to be loyal. They are expected to be there for you. They are expected to stand up for you. They are expected to respect you.

Even stray dogs and donkeys stick together. Homo sapiens is expected to do much better.

Truth is, if you implement all this advice I’m giving you, you’ll probably have to dump 80% of your current friends. But the truth also is, the remaining 20% are the friends who really matter.

The question I have to answer to myself now is, are you in my 20% – or not?

Cheers … Srini.

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Stay Single, you fool!

being-single-cushion-36148Yeah. Singleness is great.

My married friends can furiously deny this and vehemently curse me as much as they like. The fact is, the benefits of being single are very real – especially for someone like me who has suffered the consequences of being non-single.

Here are fully one dozen staggering benefits of being your own man:

1) C’est ta vie. It is YOUR life. That’s the biggest benefit of being single. You can lead your life as you wish to.

2) It’s good for your health. There are peer-reviewed studies that clearly demonstrate the beneficial effects of singleness on an individual’s health. In any case, it is far better to be single than be trapped in a bad marriage.

3) It’s good for your career. You can pursue the career that you really want to, irrespective of how much it pays or does not pay.

4) What you earn, you keep. And if you’re a frugal man like me, you can keep a lot.

5) Your social life improves greatly. One of the great fallacies about single people is that they do not have social lives. On the contrary. You can be with people whom you really want to be with, i.e. those who share your interests and hobbies. You are not obliged to socialise with people whom you absolutely detest, just to keep your wife happy.

6) It’s much easier to get a passport or any other legal document. Much, much easier. As I found out recently.

7) You lose weight. You get fit. That’s because you can spend quality time in the gym or in any enjoyable physical activity. That is, if you wish to.

8) You will never have any issues with your issues. And you will never have any grouse with your spouse.

9) You can leer without fear, and flirt without guilt. And that’s actually healthy for your self-esteem. The health benefits of flirting are well documented. Provided, of course, you flirt with the right people in the right situations, and not with complete strangers on the Internet.

If you’re married, try telling your wife that you were flirting with that hot nymphet at the office party, purely for health reasons.

10) You do sleep better. Go ahead. Snore all you want. There’s no one next to you.

11) You dress better. You look better. You eat better. You can take that IT course you always wanted to. You can go back to college to get that Master’s degree you deserve. You can visit the Andamans. You can really invest in your own self.

12) Most important benefit of all. If you are single, you will never have to worry about being legally victimised. If there is one single argument in favor of being single, this would be it.

And no one knows this better than I do. No one.

Make no mistake about it. Stay single. Stay free.

If you’re happily married, well then, good for you.  But if you’re single and worried about it, then you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Get off your butt and celebrate your singleness.

And if people point fingers at you, then point just one finger back at them – your stiff, upright middle finger.

“Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave or lose.”  Jo Coudert, American author.

Cheers … Srini.

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