Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mumbai Meri Jaan!!!

My travels and explorations in Mumbai have been very limited, almost zilch considering the immense expanse of the mega-city. Yet, Mumbai with all its flurry and fury continues to interest and enchant me further. With each of my visits to Mumbai, my curiosity to delve deeper into the intricacies of the mechanisms on which this city functions gets deeper. What excites or enthuses me about Mumbai is not its tourist places, not its people, not the hustle-bustle of the local trains, not Bollywood, but something which is a sum total of all this and which transcends all this- Experience!. My trysts with Mumbai have been many, albeit very short and limited. Yet there is something of each trip that is etched forever in my mind. Shall certainly write about my experiences sometime later. This post though is about movies and books which feature Mumbai as the main protagonist. Most of these corroborate the eternal truth- ‘Mumbai is a living hell and the people here enjoy living in this hell, come ‘rain’ (read floods!) or shine. Worse still, they make you fall in love with that hell.’goo

Movies or books, which one first?! Tough choice, but alphabetical order rules.

To make the presentation interesting (and appear fundoo in the process), I’m presenting the movies and books under three categories.

1. The ones which I haven’t read/watched.
2. The ones which I have read/watched.
3. The ones which no one has read/watched (because they haven’t been released as of now!)

Before I embark on this journey of prose and picture, I decide not to include Bollywood movies on the underworld. Much has been spoken, written and filmed about that. But I do know what to expect circa 2015.

F Fwd to 15th May,2015
Today, a book by the award-winning page 3 journalist Moniica Beidy on the harmonious relationship between the underworld and Bollywood was released at a grand party at The Taj hosted by the adorable Abu Salem. Among those in attendance were the dashing Dawood and a visibly moved Mandakini. The book is said to be inspired by the eternal love-story of Dawood and Mandakini. Among those who graced the occasion included the chirpy Chhota Rajan who was closeted with Chhota Shakeel. The two seemed to enjoy each others’ company. Sanjubaba and Sanjay Gupta weren’t able to make it to the party as they were busy watching English DVDs looking for ‘inspiration’ for their next White feather production movie. Mahesh Manjrekar and Vikram Bhatt made a grand entry in a rickshaw, sporting a new hairdo, a combination of pink and orange hair colours. Later, it turned out so that it was a clever marketing ploy by L’ Oreal to promote their latest men’s hair colour products.

Back to the present


Book which I haven’t read:

Maximum City
by Suketu Mehta.

It is said to be the book which was waiting to be written but no one dared to write. It is said to be the book which introduced vada pav, bar –girl and b*@&*()d to the world. It was short listed for the Pulitzer prize and was in the news for this reason as much as it was for Mehta’s much publicized spat with Vinod Chopra. By now you’d heard good or bad things about the book by me but then I swapped it for another book, on Mumbai again. And that book is right up there as one of the best I’ve read in my short spanned pursuit of reading as a serious hobby. If you have Maximum City, please lend it to me!

Book which I’ve read :

by Gregory David Roberts.

I want to be born as Gregory David Roberts in my next birth. I like the book that much. I might not actually that long to enjoy the ‘highs’ and endure the agonizingly painful lows, but my life would be worth it even if I have a miniscule of ‘experience’ of what Roberts had. Shantaram is about an Australian fugitive who escapes to India on a forged New Zealand passport and his life on his subsequent arrival In Mumbai. He works for the mafia, sets up a health clinic in the slums, spends a horrid time behind the bars because of his rivalry with a mysterious character and later goes on to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. The characters do not move you, you become numb with their simplicity, their purity of heart, their beauty, their mystery. What runs through all the characters and makes them become etched in your mindscape for ever is their ‘spirit’. Prabhakar’s cheerfulness and ability to see the silver lining in the darkest of the clouds, Vikram’s suaveness, Prabhakar’s mother’s pure love and affection, Khaderbhai’s ‘principle’ of ‘doing the right thing for the wrong reasons and the wrong things for the right reasons’, the challwallahs’ unity in spite of all adversities. I forgot to mention Madam Zhou’s mysterious life, Karla’s reluctance to open up to Shantaram, Abdul’s friendship with Shantaram. I can go on and on. The book is a behemoth, close to 700 pages. But it is no prose-athon and the language is simple and free-flowing. It is not like an action thriller where the hero is like a supernatural being crushing all difficulties. I liked the book because it is real. The characters, the emotions, the experiences are all real. Even the landmarks, for e.g. Leopold’s in Colaba, Haji Ali are all real. It has so much about life and philosophy, death and even the Big Bang Theory that it takes some time to digest it. But once digested, it nourishes you well like any nutrient. Shantaram is one book which you won’t think much about while reading it. But you won’t stop thinking about it after you finish reading it.

There’s a movie being made based on the book with Johnny Depp playing Shantaram. I might sound too far-fetched and optimistic, but if the character of Prabhakar is treated well and given the importance is deserves, Rajpal Yadav or Vijay Raaz might just win an Oscar. Read the book, and we’ll discuss on the Indian cast for the movie. Till then I’ll continue debating on that on IMDB.

Book that no one’s read

Sacred Games
by Vikram Chandra

And I had thought author Vikram Chandra was same as NDTV editor/anchor Vikram Chandra. Of course, they are different. The latter does look scholarly and erudite enough to be an author himself. Author Vikram Chandra is a professor of Creative Writing at University of California, Berkeley. Looks like art and literature run in his genes. His mother, Kamna Chandra was the script writer of 1942: A Love Story. His sister is more famous than him. Tanuja Chandra, the director of acclaimed movies like Dushman, Sur and Sangharsh and a dud, Yeh Zindagi ka Safar. Another sister Anupama Chopra is a journalist and recently turned author with a book on the making of Sholay. His brother-in-law is probably the most famous in his family- Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Incidentally, Suketu Mehta and Vikram Chopra together wrote the script for Mission Kashmir.
Sacred Games is in news for the huge advance Chandra has pocketed and has been in the making for almost 7 years. Hope it is worth the effort and the wait. It is a book set in Mumbai; but spreads out into a much larger canvas as the book progresses. Looks like after co-authoring the script Mission
Kashmir, Mehta and Chandra are co-authoring a ‘Mission Mumbai’. That incidentally happens to be the name of a B-grade Hindi movie.


rIDDleD SpEEcH said...

hi nikil.....
who am i??

hi V haVE met
and I guess u Know me.

Wanderlust said...

My brother Nikhil ,without any references to the sensitive movie with the same title.....Me sending down a shiver down Diggi's junior is a similar situation to a lamb making a Dragon cub do sit ups because he failed in the spelling test.
I do remember you buddy...though I must admit that the memory spots are a little unpolished.
So whats up with our college man ??
Do keep me posted .Am currently in the UK on some shit of an assignment....Take care and keep in touch...