AFWAAH – a landmark film by Sudhir Mishra

‘Afwaah’ is an announcement, if one were needed, of Sudhir’s arrival as perhaps the most perceptive political film makers of our time . A brilliant take on the abuse of social media in India Today, it’s weaponisation to serve vested political interests, fake news and its humongous and horrific impact on society, a telling comment on the grotesque systemic and personal injustices and subversion of law of the land, the inconsequence of human lives, be it a community, be it gender, abject and impotent silence of the intelligentsia.

The film is a thrilling edge-of-the-seat ride along the journey of protagonists caught in the web of a tragicomic narrative of their own creation. Each character is a real persona you can spot in your own environment. An amazing story of how conflicting narratives recoil on their own creators in a way, nobody could have predicted or anticipated.

It is a must see film . Sudhir Mishra has arrived .


Rahab Ahmed, a top notch advertising professional takes an ill fated detour through his hometown and unwittingly rescues Nivi, a political heiress running away from her father’s legacy. This fateful night becomes a journey through hell as rumors run rife and social media becomes a lethal weapon.

Afwaah is a quirky thriller that explores the power of rumours in our society. Directed by Sudhir Mishra and produced by Anubhav Sinha, the film features Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Bhumi Pednekar in lead roles. The film is set to release on May 5, 2023.


Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Bhumi Pednekar
Sharib Hashmi
Sumit Kaul
Sumeet Vyas
Rockey Raina
TJ Bhanu


Directed by Sudhir Mishra
Produced by Anubhav Sinha
Story by – Sudhir Mishra
Screenplay – Sudhir Mishra, Shiva Shankar Bajpai & Nisarg Mehta
Dialogues – Sudhir Mishra, Apurva Dhar Badgaiyann & Nisarg Mehta
Cinematography by Mauricio Vidal
Background music by Karel Antonín
‘Aaj ye Basant’ Song composed by Shamir Tandon
‘Aaj ye Basant’ Song Lyrics by Dr. Sagar
Edited by Atanu Mukherjee
Production Company: Benaras Mediaworks

Trailer Link:

‘AFWAAH’ the Sudhir Mishra thriller opening 5th May

Rahab Ahmed, a top notch advertising professional takes an ill fated detour through his hometown and unwittingly rescues Nivi, a political heiress running away from her father’s legacy. This fateful night becomes a journey through hell as rumors run rife and social media becomes a lethal weapon.

Afwaah is a quirky thriller that explores the power of rumours in our society. Directed by Sudhir Mishra and produced by Anubhav Sinha, the film features Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Bhumi Pednekar in lead roles. The film is set to release on May 5, 2023.

Look out for this space tomorrow for a detailed analysis and review of the film by Poet, Thinker, Author: Dr. Madhup Mohta


The meteoric rise of a Superstar

By Sunil Sarpal

His Bollywood journey started from a bench in a Mumbai park.  He left his marketing job in Calcutta to migrate to Mumbai so as to try his luck in acting.  In Mumbai, he had to share accommodation with other aspirants. 

Once sitting on the bench, he was deeply engrossed in thought process as to how his acting career will take off.  He concluded if he keeps on living with these people, he shall not be able to focus on his career and all his endeavour of coming to Mumbai will go waste.  He needed a separate accommodation so that he can concentrate seriously on his career. 

The movie which took him to stardom was Janjeer.  By now you must have guessed that we are talking about Amitabh Bachchan. Thereafter he did so many movies which took him to dizzy heights in Bollywood.   Some of them were Deewar, Namak Haram, Sholay, Don, Amar Akbar Anthony so on and so forth.   The list is endless. 

In movies, Amitabh was paired with so many heroins but his equation with Rekha was unique.  Even both of them were rumoured to have been in love with each other.  

His image of an angry young man in Janjeer became so popular that he was tagged with that image.  All renowned writers and producers started writing script keeping in mind his image of a young angry man. In order to come out of that image, Amitabh did so many different roles.  Even he tried his luck in comedy by doing Amar Akbar Anthony and his sense of humour was appreciated by the audience.  During those day, whatever Amitabh would put his hands on would invariably turn into Gold. 

He became so charismatic that this confidence prompted him to open a company called ABCL.  The purpose of opening this company was to make movies.  But the company flopped miserably and Amitabh became bankrupt.  

At that agonising hour in his life, Dhirubhai Ambani came to his rescue and extended financial help so that he could stand up again in his life. 

Amitabh’s fortune changed once again and from being a bankrupt, he emerged as a winner.  Acting roles started pouring in thick and fast in his life.   

He even earned lot of money thru the television show – Kaun Banega Crorepati – and that show is still going strong with him as the anchor.

In an interview, Salim Khan, the main writer of Deewar and Sholay movies, has opinionated that it is time for Amitabh to wind- up his career in acting. Because, for his age the roles are far and few. 

Some of Amitabh’s dialogue which became viral are:

1)     Rishte Mein to hum tumare baap lagte hain Naam hai Shahanshah

2)     Line wahin se shuru hoti hai jahan hum khade hote hai

3)     Khush to bahut hoge tum, jo aaj tak tumari sidian nahi chadha, dekho dekho who aaj tumare aage haath felai khada hai

हरियाणवी संस्कृति का एक नया अध्याय

लेखक – अनिल गोयल

1968 में बनी पहली फिल्म ‘धरती’ से होता हुआ हरियाणवी फिल्म उद्योग ‘चंद्रावल’ (1984) और ‘लाडो बसन्ती’ से होता हुआ आज ‘दादा लखमी चन्द’ तक आ पहुँचा है। इस बीच अश्विनी चौधरी की फिल्म ‘लाडो’ (2000) ने राष्ट्रीय फिल्म पुरस्कार जीता, और इसके चौदह साल बाद राजीव भाटिया की हरियाणवी फिल्म ‘पगड़ी दि आनर’ (2014) ने तो दो-दो राष्ट्रीय फिल्म पुरस्कार प्राप्त किये! ‘दादा लखमी’ क्षेत्रीय फिल्मों की श्रेणी में सर्वश्रेष्ठ फिल्म का राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार जीत चुकी है। इसने साठ से भी अधिक अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार जीते हैं। फ्रांस के प्रतिष्ठित कान फिल्म समारोह के फिल्म बाजार में दिखाई जानेवाली ‘दादा लखमी’ सच्चे अर्थों में एक ऐसे सिनेमाई मुहावरे को गढ़ती है, जहाँ से हरियाणवी फिल्मों के लिये अन्तर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर के द्वार खुल सकते हैं। हरियाणा की पारम्परिक लोकनाट्य विधा ‘सांग’ इसकी क्षमता रखती है। आमजनों की अपनी सहज भाषा में सहज जीवन के वात्सल्य से लेकर देशभक्ति, इतिहास, दर्शन और पौराणिकता तक का ज्ञान आमजन तक इन सांगों के माध्यम से पहुँचता रहा है।

लोक-परम्परा की इसी कड़ी में, हरियाणा के सूर्यकवि लखमी चन्द के सांग पिछली लगभग एक शताब्दी में हरियाणा के सांस्कृतिक प्रतीक के रूप में स्थापित रहे हैं। उन्हें “हरियाणा का कालिदास” भी कहा जाता है। उनका बचपन बहुत अभावों में बीता! केवल अठारह-उन्नीस वर्ष की आयु में ही लखमी चन्द ने अपने गुरुभाई जैलाल नदीपुर माजरावाले के साथ मिलकर साँग मंचित करने के लिये अपना अलग बेड़ा बनाया। उनकी प्रतिभा ने एक वर्ष के अन्दर ही उनके बेड़े को लोगों के बीच स्थापित कर दिया था। कुल बयालीस वर्ष की आयु तक ही जीवित रहे लखमी चन्द ने लगभग दो दर्जन सांगों की रचना की। शीघ्र ही पण्डित लखमी चन्द ‘साँग-सम्राट’ के रूप में विख्यात हो गये। वे कट्टर अनुशासन-प्रिय व्यक्ति थे। उनके बेड़े में हरियाणा के उत्तम से उत्तम कलाकार भी सम्मिलित होना चाहते थे। उन्होंने साँग की कला को उन ऊँचाईयों तक पहुंचा दिया, जिसका मुकाबला आज तक भी कोई और व्यक्ति नहीं कर पाया है।

इन्हीं सूर्यकवि पण्डित लखमी चन्द पर हरियाणा के अभिनेता-निर्माता-निर्देशक यशपाल शर्मा ने ‘दादा लखमी चन्द’ फिल्म बनाई है. इसमें यशपाल शर्मा, मेघना मालिक, राजेन्द्र गुप्ता, आदि ने मुख्य भूमिकाएँ निभाई हैं। फिल्म में लखमी चन्द के बचपन की भूमिका में योगेश वत्स, और युवावस्था की भूमिका में हितेश शर्मा ने बहुत सशक्त अभिनय किया है। योगेश वत्स ने सुन्दर अभिनय करने के साथ-साथ इस फिल्म में गाने भी गाये हैं, जिसके मधुर गायन ने दर्शकों को बहुत आकर्षित किया. युवा लखमी की भूमिका निभा रहे हितेश का गायन और सांगी की भूमिका करते समय उनका नर्तन और अभिनय दर्शकों को लगातार बाँधे रखता है।

बहुत बार देखा गया है कि कोई अभिनेता-निर्देशक अपने को ही फिल्म के ऊपर हावी हो जाने देता है। लेकिन यशपाल शर्मा ने अपने को इससे बचाये रखा है। प्रारम्भ में कुछ समय को छोड़ कर बाकी की फिल्म में वे परदे से गायब हो जाते हैं।

लखमी के बाल्यकाल और किशोरावस्था की भूमिकाओं में भी अन्य कलाकार नजर आते हैं। लेकिन इन सब के ऊपर, अभिनय के आधार पर इस फिल्म को मेघना मलिक की फिल्म कहा जा सकता है। यशपाल शर्मा ने जिस प्रकार से मेघना मलिक के माध्यम से एक माँ के हृदय की वेदना को उभारा है, वह अतुलनीय है। मेघना की हरियाणवी भाषा में संवादों की अदायगी इतनी प्रभावशाली है, कि उनके बोलते समय पर पिक्चर-हॉल में सन्नाटा पसर जाता है; विशेषकर वह प्रसंग अत्यन्त मार्मिक बन पड़ा, जब तीसरी-चौथी बार लखमी के घर से भाग जाने पर वह थक कर कहती है, ‘इसे जाने दो।।।’ कैसे एक माँ अपने उद्दण्ड बेटे से हार जाती है, और ना चाह कर भी, मजबूरी में उसके घर से चले जाने को स्वीकार कर लेती है!

यह फिल्म यशपाल शर्मा की छः वर्षों की मेहनत का फल है। इसमें रागनी-गायन एकदम ठेठ देसी है, जो सीधा दिल में उतर जाता है। फिल्म की असली जान ही है उसका संगीत, जिसके द्वारा लखमी चन्द के सांग दिखाये गये हैं। एक कवि और सांगी की कहानी सुना कर यह पिक्चर फिल्म-निर्माण के क्षेत्र में एक नई राह दिखा रही है। उत्तम सिंह द्वारा तैयार किया इस फिल्म का उत्तम संगीत भारत की इस फिल्म को ऐमी अवार्ड दिलवाने की क्षमता रखता है।

बहुत समय के बाद परिवार के साथ बैठ कर देख सकने योग्य साफ-सुथरी फिल्म आई है। रवीन्द्र सिंह राजावत और यशपाल शर्मा द्वारा निर्मित इस लघु बजट की हरियाणवी फिल्म में समाज में पारिवारिक मूल्यों को पुनर्स्थापित करने की शक्ति है… इसे देख कर गाँव के सहज, सरल जीवन की ओर को वापसी का विचार मन में आता है। यह बच्चों को भी दिखाने योग्य फिल्म है, ताकि आधुनिकता की दौड़ में अन्धी होती हरियाणवी संस्कृति को पुनर्जीवन मिले।
यह फिल्म हरियाणवी फिल्मों को नई ऊँचाइयों तक पहुँचाने का दम रखती है। फिल्म देखते हुए कई बार हॉल में व्याप्त सन्नाटे से दर्शकों के रोंगटे खड़े होने का आभास होता था। इस फिल्म ने हरियाणवी रागिनी और सिनेमा, दोनों को जिन्दा कर दिया। फिल्म के एक-एक दृश्य में हरियाणा के ग्रामीण जीवन और संस्कृति दिखाई देते हैं। जिस प्रकार बाहुबली और आर.आर.आर. जैसी अरबों रूपये के बजट वाली दक्षिण भारतीय/क्षेत्रीय फिल्मों ने भारतीय फिल्म इंडस्ट्री को एक नई दिशा दी, वही काम आज ‘दादा लखमी चन्द’ जैसी एक छोटी सी, कम खर्चे की फिल्म कर रही है।

यह फिल्म पण्डित लखमी चन्द के जीवन का पहला भाग दर्शाती है। बाकी जीवन-चरित जानने के लिये फिल्म के दूसरे भाग की दर्शकों को प्रतीक्षा रहेगी।

OTT Series: Aranyak
on Netflix / Sanjiva Sahay

The brand new Hindi webseries on Netflix

▫️ Welcome to the world of murder mystery that has the deceptive appearance of a folklore. This character- नर तेंदुआ- imaginary or real, would hammer your brain across 8 episodes. Since a fresh killing and rape of a girl , the sleepy town of Himachal Pradesh is jolted again. The police station, uncountable natives …complete with an influential politician and a high status business family. The probe begins, so does your journey into a narrative which is thrilling in the beginning and a big disappointment after 3 episodes. Lengthy, tedious and long drawn.

▫️ Casting is almost perfect. Parambrata excels as Angad Mallik, the investigating police officer. Surprisingly, Raveena as the SHO on leave, Kasturi Dogra, manages to get into the character effortlessly. Then we have actors like Ashutosh Rana, Zakir Husain, Meghna Malik among others who try earnestly to lift a dull screenplay. All remain stereotypes with some clichéd, overdramatic dialogues. The hangover of the forgotton era of the ’80s.

▫️ A mixed bag indeed. Average direction and writing, above average performances (better than Candy at least), effective background score. O yes, watch the series on faster speed for the breathtaking and picturesque locations. The climax has been shot in thick snowfall all over and looks phenomenal.

▫️ Nothing less, nothing more.

Ruchi Kishore’s : DIRTY CHAI, a hip hop Bollywood musical

DIRTY CHAI, a hip hop Bollywood musical, is a colorful & crazy dramedy, full of heart!

Chaya Chandrika Gopi, or “Chai” as she likes to be called, is a rebellious Indian-American bride-to-be. Chai’s parents have promised her to a nice Indian boy and the wedding is in ten days. With her back against the wall, not yet ready to give in to this assault on her freedoms, Chai leaves home but unexpectedly falls in love with a charming & mysterious stranger, making a powder keg out of an already complicated situation. Chai finds forbidden love with a fearless American girl, Ronnie, and is trapped between upholding her family’s traditions or following her heart, which goes against everything she’s been taught.

Chai is a messy concoction of two very different cultures, two conflicting identities, and two opposing desires, just like the dirty chai she orders each morning- a perfect brew of espresso and chai (tea).

Her Indian father, Mr. Hardik Gopi, is a traditional Hindu man.

Her White American mother, Mrs. Rani Gopi, converted to Hinduism after falling in love.

Filled with excitement and sarcasm, DIRTY CHAI challenges the walls of formality, fear, and judgment that separate people. Every cause has an effect in this intricately interwoven dramedy about human lives, embracing family, and the chaos of falling in love.

P.S. There will be a wedding so, “chai” not to miss it! o.O

Directed by Adam Marcus
Starring Ruchi Kishore as “Chai”
Sponsored by Café Cafe Mobile Coffee

Now Watch the play online on this link:


As tributes pour in on Surekha Sikri’s demise listen to her Swan Songs

Veteran actor Surekha Sikri passed away this morning, Friday the 16th July 2021, following a cardiac arrest, her agent, Vivek Sidhwani informed. In a statement shared with the media, the agent said the actor had been suffering from complications arising from a second brain stroke. She was with her family and her caregivers who requested privacy at this time.

Surekha Sikri (19 April 1945 – 16 July 2021) was an Indian theatre, film and television actress. A veteran of Hindi theatre, she made her debut in the 1978 political drama film Kissa Kursi Ka and went on to play supporting roles in numerous Hindi and Malayalam films, as well as in Indian soap operas. Sikri has received several awards, including three National Film Awards and a Filmfare Award.

Sikri won the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress thrice, for her roles in Tamas (1988), Mammo (1995) and Badhaai Ho (2018). She was awarded the Indian Telly Award for Best Actress in a Negative Role in 2008 for her work in the primetime soap opera Balika Vadhu and won the Indian Telly Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the same show in 2011. In addition, she won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1989 for her contributions towards Hindi theater. Her last release Badhaai Ho (2018) got her immense recognition and appreciation from viewers and critics. She won three awards: the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress, Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Screen Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.

As a fitting tribute to the great performer she was we will listen to her mellifluous recitations of Hindi and Urdu Poetry. But before that, here are some of the tributes which poured in on social media and otherwise from her millions of admirers, and eminent people whom she knew, including actors and directors from film, television and theatre.

Ashish Abrol, Income Tax Commisioner, laments: “Surekha Sikri or Surekha di as we called her passed away today morning. I cannot get myself to accept that she is no more. I came to know her in 1985 when she was a faculty member in NSD and came completely under her thrall as she became a mentor, teacher, older sister and a maternal figure for me. Her panache, idiosyncrasies, brilliance as an actor and her erudition… often when her silences taught you more than lectures of so many others. Her love for chaat and the occasional joint… later of course she could not eat much courtesy the intestine problems. She was perhaps the greatest theatre actor ever in modern India; some one who could emote and yet be aware of her own performance as if standing out of her body observing herself perform. More than that she was always overflowing with warmth that traveled to you through her twinkling often mischievous eyes. She was so thrilled when her son Rahul had an exhibition in The Habitat Centre …I was not in touch with her for some time more since her paralysis and with her inability to speak. A triple national award winner; Surekha ji was known to the country at large courtesy her TV and film roles…in Tamas, as Dadisa, in Mammoo but it is her oeuvre in theatre that is stunning; she owned the stage, set it on fire and then doused the flames with her voice and gentleness. RIP Surekha di my mother in another life you live on in your performances and our memories”

“She was one of my personal favourites .. a lovely actress .. will never forget her Nsd work when I was in college in delhi .. god bless her” – Lillet Dubey

“There is a total immersion in life…have deeply admired her work, her persona from the Nsd days, so fully engaged in enjoying everything that came her way intensely” – Amba Sanyal

“Surekha my dear dear friend! We were in the same batch! A consummate actress,very strong woman , determined and brave! ! Never let go of her beliefs and strong options! I shall miss her dearly” – Amal Allana

“Very very sad news. We have lost another great actress. Surekha Sikri left for her heavenly abode. Heartfelt condolences to her family. May God rest her soul in peace” – Satish Anand

“Another great loss to theatre and films. She was a great actor and inspiration to all her juniors at NSD. Will never forget her superb performances. Rest in peace Surekhaji” – Anila Singh Khosla

“Deeply saddened – was always uplifted by her rendering of Faiz’s poem- may she rest in eternal peace” –Salima Hashmi

“Shocking news. She was one of the few who defined theatre for us in our youth. What a great loss for all of us” – Rajiv Bhargav

“Last of the greatest products of NSD..and loved and respected hugely for her talent and principles. Will be sorely missed” – Dolly Thakore

Tail Piece: Surekha Sikri was very fond of poetry. Listen to her reciting poetry by Faiz, Raghuvir Sahay & Sarveshvar

Satish Alekar: Remembering Dilip Kumar

Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu at Turf Club, Pune.
Behind from left: Satish Ghatpande, Dilip Gokhale, Avinash Limaye, Arvind Thakar and Suresh Basale

In 1975 to celebrate 100th show of our Theatre Academy, Pune’s original Marathi Production Vijay Tendulkar’s: Ghashiram Kotwal, we invited Dilip Kumar and Shashi Kapoor as the chief guests. Thereafter not many know that Dilip Kumar became our friend. There were many occasions where Jabbar Patel, Anil Joglekar and me were invited to his home on the Pali Hill. Several story ideas were discussed to make film. Story drafts were discussed but never materialised. But we became friends. Dilip Kumar used to speak Marathi fluently. He had seen many popular Marathi Sangeet Natak’s. Sometime at his home he will take out harmonium and sing old Marathi theatre song made popular by Bal Gandharva. Dilip Kumarji and Saira ji used to visit Pune during weekends. They used to stay at famous Turf Club and used to invite Ghashiram actors Gang for a high tea and chat. Above is one photograph of their 1993 visit to Turf Club Pune. Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu seen with ( from left: Satish Ghatpande, Dilip Gokhale, Avinash Limaye, Arvind Thakar, and Suresh Basale) We lost all these three actors over the years.

100th Show of Ghashiram Kotwal in 1975 Dilip Kumar seen with Shriram Ranade, Chandrakant Kale and Shashi Kapoor
100th show of Ghashiram at Shanmukhanand Hall, Mumbai
Dilip Kumar is with the artists.

Five minutes monologue of Dilip Kumar in 1953 film Foothpath written and directed by Zia Sarhadi

Chronicle of my Curious Corona Case / Susmita Mukherjee

Susmita Mukherjee in her Farm in Orchha

It all started with what in Mumbai’s parlance is known as ‘ Pateli’. Let me elaborate, Pateli‘ and it’s stronger aspect ,also known as ‘ Vatt Pateli’, loosely translates itself as arrogance or false bravado. You see I have been living in my idyllic farmhouse in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, with my family since March 2020 lockdown, along with our cows, dogs, cat and even peacocks so how did I get the dreaded Covid?   I did Pateli.  To be honest I have tried to be disciplined most of my adult life ( ever since I gave up being a 4 packs of cigarettes a day smoker back then in 1989) and had turned into a unrecognisable creature who gave up smoking, meditated, did yoga, pranayam, ate clean food and basked in the adoration of  friends and family who  made me feel pretty invincible. In fact I hadn’t taken a single pill for the last 3 decades, and combated the rare fever with coconut water and fruits.

So I swung around with full pateli,with the belief that Corona or whatever the world was talking about with such fear, could never reach me. It helped that we don’t have a TV as ours is a microclimatic  zone, and so I kept myself occupied with reading novels, and occasionally watching ” goody goody” stuff on my cellphone.  Then I made 2 fatal errors.On the 10th of April, I sauntered with my friend, (a woman who was contesting as an Independent candidate for the Zila Panchayat election from a backward seat, )as we wove in and out of Bundeli villages, drinking water from the homes we visited, not realising that some water came from wells, others from bawois and some from God knows where. So we had ” ghat ghat ka paani‘, because in these parts refusing water is equivalent to hurting the host.   

Error No. 2. On the 12th, I accompanied my husband and our manager who got their vaccines but I bluntly refused. Vaccine? Oh no , not for me. Vatt Pateli.   That very evening I was invited as chief guest  for a function in Jhansi, where my friend, Dr Neeti Shastri was celebrating National Street Theatre Day and as I had been part of the street theatre movement in Delhi, back in the early days, I was happy to attend.  The only problem, (which of-course I realised in hindsight,) was that the anchor, a veteran journalist, who stood and sat next to me had a very bad cold and sneezed a lot which reminded me to keep my mask on firmly but when the photographers wanted to see my face, vanity kicked in ( I’m an actress) and I let my mask down in more ways than one, with chilling consequences., (Error No. 3).   

13th, 14th and 15th of April were busy days as I prepared to welcome Mother Durga who  it was said was coming this year on horseback and did not portend well for mankind. And I , in my fervour,  was determined to fast and pray and so I ignored the horrid body pain I felt for 3 days not for a moment imagining it could be the dreaded Corona. Then on the 4th day the pain vanished mysteriously and I had no memory of it as I gaily completed the Naudurga, fasting on fruits, coconut water and one  small meal of permissible items. I was continuing with my yoga, meditation, walks. No cough, no fever, no body pain.   Suddenly it got curious.

Error No. 4. On 23rd April, I committed another Pateli. I walked out in the noon heat for a small pooja we were perfoming at the farm for the creative Academy my husband is building and returned dizzy from the heat. ‘ Vinaash kaale vipreet buddhi‘ 2 hours later I was on my way to Jhansi, 15 kilometres away, helping my team source iron and cement blocks for the construction..After that every thing got black. I declared to all that I would self quarantine. I may have had a slight fever but since in the past I had never paid attention to it, coupled with the fact that we did not own a thermometer and did not see the reason to have one ( Pateli), I dropped into a pitch black hole of sleep, utter fatigue and an unquenchable thirst. A small cough started. Not dry or racking but just an irritating moist cough with phlegm. I did not listen to my husband who sent me a strip of paracetamol but cunningly tore one pill away and hid it under my pillow, in case he inspected the strip ( Pateli)   From 23rd to 30th, I kept myself strictly self quarantined. Food was sent to me outside my door but I was not particularly hungry. But thirsty, yes, and fatigued, by my standards. My yoga, walks, meditation continued but with difficulty. 

So for 21 days after possible infection I was sustaining without any medicine, only on fruits and coconut water.  Suddenly on 30th morning, I woke up with a panic attack and called my doctor in Mumbai who immediately prescribed some pills and asked me to take the RTPCR test. Now this test had been the bone of contention for a while. My younger son who is studying to be a scientist in New Zealand, along with his school classmate, My doctor,, who is in the frontline of Covid treatment in India, had been pleading with me to get a test done.  I had dismissed it as medical haranguing.I had first heard the term from my very concerned older sister, and ofcourse I was determined not to go to any hospitals for testing ( Pateli) But my Mumbai doctor was not going to listen to this insane patient in Orchha. A conversation happened between him and my husband and I was bundled off to to our small but clean hospital in the village where they stuffed some cotton up my nostrils and the dreaded RTPCR test seemed like child’s play.

I was seeing the outside world after 3 weeks, the weather was nice and I felt really well.   My husband’s younger brother and his wife were visiting and knowing my propensity to cure myself with fruits and water were not unduly alarmed as I now started to hang out with them, albeit always at a safe distance.   Then on 2nd late evening, the verdict came. Covid positive. We had been sitting out in the cabana, chatting, having tea, and suddenly within minutes my family disappeared like in stop block and reappeared covered from head to toe in whatever plastic they could lay their hands on. It was such a comical sight in an absurd situation where  within minutes the whole scenario changed. Of-course in hindsight it was not so funny!  Next day, 3rd of May came the epiphany, the real reason to write this personal chronicle. My husband, Raja Bundela, is well known in these parts as an activist leader, and without my knowledge an ambulance, an oxygen cylinder and a hospital bed in the most premiere hospital had been lined up. Lucky me!

No more Pateli for me

Clearly my family was in panic. I was pretty well and when I reached the hospital in Jhansi, a doctor rushed to me and slipped something plastic in my index finger, where I met an oxymeter for the first time. Puzzled, he did his check again and murmured…” 98″Then he asked me” Can you walk or do you need a wheelchair”? I was astounded even a bit enraged ( me, the compulsive walker!!!) Much too sweetly I replied,” No, I can walk. Thank you so very much’. To make my point, I walked faster than usual as he led me inside a door which read ICCU. It closed behind us. The room was abuzz with doctors, nurses and wardboys. Next they moved me to a sheetless bed and said that it had been sanitized for me. To my left I had a glimpse of a brown wrinkled arm and several people were thumping him up and down. (He died minutes later) The air was rent with what seemed to me like demonic sounds of people moaning and groaning, all out of synch, ; the AC was not functioning at its best and it smelt of anasthesia . I was asked to lay down on “my ” bed as the doctor hurried out.

I had 2 options, I could look around or I could shut my eyes. I suddenly remembered a line I had read somewhere, that during World war 2, the only Jews who had escaped the concentration camps were people who kept their inner bodies clean. And then all of a sudden, the developmental biologist, Dr Bruce Lipton and his seminary work, ‘ Biology of Belief’ popped up in my mind. He claimed that our cells prosper in the Petri dish of our bodies only if they feel safe inside. So despite the shock of being unloaded in the ICCU without warning, I closed my eyes and within minutes, I was roaming inside my body which till date I can remember clearly. I was surrounded by million, trillion tiny sparkling lights, much tinier than the string of fairy lights we put out in Diwali and Christmas but they were golden  yellow and each point was disappearing into another point which went deeper into another point in an amazing non stop dance. It felt as if I was roaming inside a large warm golden honeycomb. I thought I lay there endlessly as the sounds around me dimmed.  I am told that about 15 minutes later, I was aroused by the doctor who arrived with a flurry of nurses. He handed me a sheaf of papers to sign mandatory before being admitted to the ICCU. Shocked, I almost charged out of the unit, desperately looking out for my family.  Some more conversations happened. I convinced them that I was well enough not to utilise the ICU and to give it to someone who was really critical.   So I was sent to the room where my CBC and urine were taken. The sight of the stoic south Indian nurses, in their pink frocks, made me weepy with gratitude. A chest x ray was taken and I was allowed to go home. 

Next day I was asked to return to the hospital in Jhansi where they took a CT scan. Latest medical knowledge says it has the power of 300 chest x rays but this one was from the University of Whatsapp so it is yet to be authenticated.    By evening the report came. All was well.  But with Covid there is always a risk of pneumonia and I had a slight chest infection. And with that the allopathic medicines were started on me.Technically  then, I got my first shot of medicines after 21 days of infection.     This was the worst cycle. My body completely unused to medicine lay drugged and fatigued. I used to get panic attacks at meal times because the very thought of food was nauseous. I was dizzy. I fell down twice and was in a very bad place. But I ploughed through because of the immense loving care from my extended family. For 10 whole days my insides were  bombed with antibiotics to deal with the dreaded Covid. My body shocked and confused, just collapsed into a heap .

During meditation,the part who I think is ” me” I would often pity that dead weight . That was the time I thought of writing my will when I realised the full idiocy of chasing career, fame, money when my body was deciding whether it wanted to be “killed”, by chemicals in order to “survive” the virus. The existential question came up: Can matter destroy matter?After my ICCU experience, I can say with utter serenity, that in my case, energy was the most potent tool to kill matter.   This is not to say that one should not take medicine if attacked by the virus, or not take the vaccine, because physicians and doctors too have a life purpose, which is to help cure us. But the best cure is not to identify with matter. In other words don’t get hooked into the disease, don’t give it the attention it is craving. In short, do what the doctor tells you to do, but at the psychical level, give Covid the BIG IGNORE! 

Instead,while distancing yourself from your body, treat it like a ” treacherous friend” who when the time comes, will walk off the earth in death, whether one is ready for it or not. So while  still on earth, keep giving it the antibodies it needs in the form of laughter, sunshine, positivity or whatever it is that makes you happy. Joy is energy. This will create the best immunity to recover. This has been my first hand experience.   In conclusion then, I had spent the first 3 weeks without any medicine and then 2 weeks with lots of them. A huge thank you to everyone who helped me crawl out of the black hole, back to sunlight, yoga  meditation, barefoot walks in my beloved farm, albeit with much more gratitude and. .ZERO PATELI!  

From a spiritual perspective, there may be good news. It appears that disease, is like the cream that collects, when milk is boiled. The more it is boiled, the more cream comes to the surface. This may be equated to our ‘ Prarabdh karma’, or alloted karma, which has to be worked out this lifetime. So the onset of a disease ( likened to the surfacing of cream), forces us to work out our karma when we are still conscious and able bodied. By this token, who knows, the Carona may have reduced our karmic load, both individually, as well as from the perspective of collective humanity.


Susmita Mukherjee finally got her first Jab yesterday the 7th August 2021. Cheers to that.

Remembering Ray | Kanika Aurora

Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem in the autograph book of young Satyajit whom he met in idyllic Shantiniketan.

The poem, translated in English, reads: ‘Too long I’ve wandered from place to place/Seen mountains and seas at vast expense/Why haven’t I stepped two yards from my house/Opened my eyes and gazed very close/At a glistening drop of dew on a piece of paddy grain?’

Years later, Satyajit Ray the celebrated Renaissance Man, captured this beauty, which is just two steps away from our homes but which we fail to appreciate on our own in many of his masterpieces stunning the audience with his gritty, neo realistic films in which he wore several hats- writing all his screenplays with finely detailed sketches of shot sequences and experimenting in lighting, music, editing and incorporating unusual camera angles. Several of his films were based on his own stories and his appreciation of classical music is fairly apparent in his music compositions resulting in some rather distinctive signature Ray  tunes collaborating with renowned classical musicians such as Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar and Vilayat Khan.

No surprises there. Born a hundred years ago in 1921 in an extraordinarily talented Bengali Brahmo family, Satyajit Ray carried forward his illustrious legacy with astonishing ease and finesse.

Both his grandfather Upendra Kishore RayChaudhuri and his father Sukumar RayChaudhuri are extremely well known children’s writers. It is said that there is hardly any Bengali child who has not grown up listening to or reading Upendra Kishore’s stories about the feisty little bird Tuntuni or the musicians Goopy Gyne and Bagha Byne. He also launched Sandesh, perhaps the first children’s magazine in India. Satyajit revived it in 1961 and it is currently available online as well.

He also established the Calcutta Film Society in 1947 with some like mind friends and film enthusiasts; the first film club of its kind in India, dedicated to watching and discussing the best of world cinema.

Pather Panchali (The Song of the Road), directed by Satyajit Ray is rightly considered as one of the greatest landmarks in Indian film history, placing our country firmly on the world’s cinematic map inspiring several generations of film directors.

After watching Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, he recalled his emotions in a lecture in 1984. The film had “gored” him. “I came out of the theatre with my mind firmly made up. I would become a filmmaker. The prospect of giving up a job didn’t daunt me any more. I would make my film exactly as De Sica had made his: working with non-professional actors, using modest resources, and shooting on actual locations.”

 “I was familiar with the camera, possessing a second-hand Leica. And paying homage to a photographer I considered to be the greatest of all—Henri Cartier-Bresson—I wanted my film to look as if it was shot with available light a la Cartier-Bresson… I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would become a filmmaker, starting my career with Pather Panchali. If it didn’t work out, I would be back at my desk at Keymer’s, tail between my legs. But if it did work, there would be no stopping me.” (My Years with Apu.)

But there was no money to make the film. After failing to procure the bare minimum amount required to even contemplate filming, Ray decided to ask some of his friends to contribute a thousand rupees each. The budget of the film had been fixed at ₹ 70,000. He collected ₹ 17,000, and started filming in the October of 1952. The very first sequence that was shot is perhaps the most iconic of the film: Apu and his elder sister Durga running through a field of kaash flowers to see a train for the first time in their lives.

Pandit Ravi Shankar would provide the music and Subrata Mitra was the 21-year-old cinematographer who had never operated a motion picture camera before this. Today he is acknowledged in the cinema world as one of the finest ever to operate a movie camera.

The rest as they say is history.

 Pather Panchali went to the Cannes Film Festival and there is a popular anecdote about how initially it was exhibited late at night at a small theatre with less than a dozen people watching including Francois Truffaut, then a critic who would eventually go one to become a great film director, leaving the hall within 10 minutes, bored by the slow pace of the film. Truffaut later apologized several times and Ray and he became good friends.

Lotte Eisner, who would go on to become the chief curator of the Cinematheque Francaise, as Providence would have it decided that the film deserved a second screening. She lobbied and campaigned for it, resulting in a second show which was well attended and Pather Panchali won the special jury prize for the ‘Best Human Document’.

Ray could now become a full-time film director. He started work on Pather Panchali’s sequel Aparajito (The Unvanquished), which depicts Apu’s teenage years is arguably the finest and most touching film of the Apu trilogy.

Although the first film he wanted to make was Ghare Baire, the one that got made was of course, Pather Panchali. An adaptation of Tagore’s 1916 novel, Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) eventually did get made in 1984 and got nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival that year.

In 1982, delivering a lecture, Ray spoke about his work.

“There is a special problem that faces one who must talk about films. Lectures on art should ideally be illustrated. One who talks on paintings usually comes armed with slides and a projector. This solves the difficulty of having to describe in words, what must be seen with the eyes. The lecturer on music must bless the silicon revolution, which enables him to cram all his examples into a cassette no bigger than a small bar of chocolate. But the lecturer on cinema has no such advantage—at least not in the present state of technology in our country. If he wishes to cite an example, he can do no more than give a barely adequate description in words, of what is usually perceived with all one’s senses. A film is pictures, a film is words, a film is movement, a film is drama, a film is music, a film is a story, a film is a thousand expressive aural and visual details. These days one must also add that film is colour. Even a segment of film that lasts barely a minute can display all these aspects simultaneously. You will realize what a hopeless task it is to describe a scene from a film in words. They can’t even begin to do justice to a language which is so complex.”

Ray thought of cinema as a language. “Cinema is images and sound,” he said.

“The problem,” he wrote, “was over the word ‘art’. If the word ‘language’ was used instead, I think the true nature of cinema will become clearer and there will be no need for debate.” Cinema was a language defined by fade-ins, and fade-outs, camera angles, clever editing and quick cuts complemented by classical music.

Composing music for his films was essential to him too. “How interesting to know… that film and music had so much in common!” he wrote (Speaking of Films). “Both unfold over a period of time; both are concerned with pace and rhythm and contrast; both can be described in terms of mood—sad, cheerful, pensive, boisterous, tragic, jubilant.”

Ray had mastered the art of conveying the message without actually making it explicitly obvious. In Apur Sansar, for instance, the audience gets a sense of the intimacy and comfort that Apu (the incredibly gifted Soumitra Chatterjee, who passed away recently and worked with Ray in fourteen films) and his wife Aparna (Sharmila Tagore in her first film role, who was apparently expelled from her convent school for appearing in a film) enjoy from the little sequences like Apu waking up in the morning, looking decidedly happy and satiated, opening his packet of cigarettes and finding a note by Aparna inside, asking him not to smoke too much.

Ray also ensures that women in his movies exhibit dignity and courage in the face of adversities.

Charulata, based on a Tagore novella called Nashtaneer, whose literal translation is The Ruined Nest (home in this instance) with the English title, The Lonely Wife is a masterpiece by any standards.  

The opening sequence which establishes her soul destroying loneliness with no dialogues is fascinating and portrays her unique disposition in seven minutes of near silent shots.

In Ray’s own words the seven minutes were about (from Speaking Of Films) attempting to use a language entirely free from literary and theatrical influences. Except for one line of dialogue in its seven minutes, the scene says what it has to say in terms that speak to the eye and the ear.

Madhabi Mukherjee, his rumoured muse and more accomplished the job with practiced ease in the scene which is still etched in his fans’ collective memory; the embroidery, the chiming of the grandfather clock, casual lifting of the piano lid and striking a note; the monkey man, the palki, lorgnette and all.

Another personal favourite is her swinging gaily with fairly unusual camera angles and positioning perhaps influence by his mentor Renoir’s A Day in the Country. So is the brilliant montage announcing the arrival of rains in Pather Panchali.

Everyone has a list of their cherished sequence, I daresay from scores of profound, layered and thematically rich Ray films, such as Jalsaghar, Devi or The Calcutta Trilogy: Pratidwandi, Seemabaddha & Jana Aranya.

One is spoilt for choice out of his 28 films which he directed in over four decades.

Most of these are based on classic Bengali literary works, and two; Shatranj Ke Khilari and the telefilm Sadgati on stories written by Munshi Premchand. Others are based on contemporary novels and short stories, and some, like Kanchanjungha and Nayak are original scripts written by Ray himself. One of his last films, Ganashatru was inspired by Ibsen’s play, An Enemy of The People.

A few of his films like Parash Pathar (The Philosopher’s Stone), and the two Feluda detective novels of his which he made into film—Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) and Joi Baba Felunath (The Elephant God) are breezy and immensely entertaining. His two Goopy-Bagha films, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne and Hirak Rajar Deshe (The Kingdom of Diamonds) delighted the children as musicals.

A little known fact about Ray is that without knowing it, he was indeed the first “graphic designer” in India. He even designed two English typefaces -Ray Roman and Ray Bizarre.

One of the most influential, multi-faceted and greatest filmmakers of all times, Satyajit Ray mastered the art of telling intimate human stories, the journey, the trials and tribulations of the ordinary men and women with extraordinary expertise embodying and showcasing the magic of cinema at its very best.

To recognize his enormous contributions to cinema, he was awarded the Academy Honorary Award days before his death. He was also awarded India’s highest civilian honour Bharat Ratna by the Government of India

The legendary Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa one famously remarked about Ray, “Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.”

Satyajit Ray shall forever continue to illuminate and inspire.