India-Pakistan Conflict: Boycott the Boycott

Source: Dawn

Source: Dawn

Ah, the season of war is back. Time to deal with completely needless inconveniences because of the bloated egos of the leaderships of the two countries, if you are unfortunate enough to live in one of them.

War hysteria is at an all-time high in recent years in India, especially fueled by the Fuhrer and the warmongering media. Similar roles have been taken up by the military leadership on this side as well as warmongering news anchors on warmongering channels.

In the wake of the national mood, the association of Indian film producers considered it necessary to take action against Pakistani artists from appearing in Indian films. This tells us a lot about the Indian film producers and their version of patriotism.

Now India has been known to do this before and considering that it was not always exactly a fan of free trade and has even had some love for trade protectionism in the past, old habits creeping into the new Indian age of economic freedom is not a surprise.

But what is even worse is that the Pakistani film distributors and theater owners felt the need to emulate the Indian version of patriotism. They have responded by taking off Indian films from Pakistani theaters. I know Pakistanis have been at it before, but is this really the right way to act? Even PEMRA is pressing to eliminate Indian television content in Pakistan and to suspend the guilty TV channels. This is completely nonsensical, especially in the age of the internet.

Regardless of the quality of Indian films, it is a well-known fact that these productions are awfully popular in Pakistan. Has our hate for India really exceeded the love of the free market and freedom of access?

Why do we have to punish the local consumer to make a point about nothing to the Indian producers or the government of India?

And if we say that India started it, then why do we have to act in kind? Are we trying to harm India or our local consumer?

While a good number of both Indian artists and public are maintaining their sanity, sadly their public debate is dominated by people who are inciting an emotional reaction. Likewise, there is no shortage of such idiots on this side of the border.

However, it is easy to see that the India-Pakistan conflict has been reduced to the words and actions of brawling, irresponsible, and mentally impaired high school bullies who don’t know any better but to resort to juvenile antics to score cheap points.

As two of the largest nations of the world, the people must pause and reflect. Have we really lost our minds? Is this who we really are?

Well, apparently. Because it seems like we have been waiting for an opportunity to pounce on each other for quite a while. But in all fairness, you cannot blame the hysteria among the people. The political and military leadership, in both India and Pakistan, need to get their heads examined.

With Pakistan threatening nuclear warfare and India threatening to block Pakistan’s water supply, it is clear that the welfare of the common people is the last thing on their minds. Just imagine countries issuing such threats lecturing others on terrorism.

The ban on the art from across the border by private entities, who we very well know are pressured by government authorities and public opinion shaped by propaganda, are also reflective of the disregard of the public opinion. The regulatory authorities and film business bodies on both sides have only shown how much they regard the audiences. Shameful to say the least.

So should we move ahead likewise and boycott these film producers and theater owners as well? I guess not because that is not who we are, even if their terrible business sense makes them a deserving party.

Let us not respond to a boycott with a boycott.

Let us not respond to a ban with a ban.

If some business entities and government in India have decided to punish their people, why should we react to punish ours?

Pakistan had embraced the free market way earlier in its history than India and must keep that tradition alive. At least the Pakistani people remain very libertarian and pro-free market when it comes to their freedom of access, and will remain so despite the government bans.

The government should get out of their way when it comes to ridiculous regulations. Or the citizens know very well how to go out of their way to get around them.

And let’s face it, many people in Pakistan love Indian movies. So let them watch in peace.

When it comes to the India-Pakistan conflict, let’s boycott the boycott.

The post was originally published in The Nation blogs.

The One Role I Would Have Loved Robin Williams to Play



I could not possibly have been more devastated to hear any news from Hollywood than the death of Robin Williams.

I always anticipated this day with dread and anxiety. But I never imagined it would be upon us this soon. This soon.

August 10, 2014.


Well now that he’s dead, I can’t meet him. Lucky folks like Michael Dare have, but he’s a star himself. To me, at least. Oh well, there goes one more item off my bucket list.

But I hope he would be in great peace, if only oblivion and non existence, unlike the predicament as in What Dreams May Come. I just watched that film right after his death and you can’t begin to imagine how ironically overwhelming that was. I guess you can.

But what I greatly respect him for is that he committed suicide. An intellectual act that I have great respect and sympathy for. Even though it may not have been planned in this case. Even though it is largely maligned and even Robin’s case was encountered with malicious and insensitive comments.

And for those who say that suicide is selfish, so be it. Selfish is not necessarily bad or evil. Everybody is selfish. Love is selfish.

But speaking of suicide, for years, I have been longing to see him in one role. A role that personally fascinates me like very few others.

The role of Do. The role of Marshall Applewhite, the founder of the Heaven’s Gate Cult.

A shocking piece of news that hit the world in March 1997, right at the time when the spectacular Hale-Bopp comet was kissing our South Western skies.

OK, now, I am not pretending that I am a filmmaker, though I write scripts, but let’s assume for a minute that I am. Or perhaps even a financier, or just somebody who is working chores for the production company. But somebody involved in the production.

Now I would have loved to be a part of the production in some way.

I would have at least loved to watch that film. But that opportunity is lost forever.

So many losses to mourn.

I believe suicides are largely misunderstood, but Marshall Applewhite’s was a special one. His cult adds just so much more mystery to it, which makes for a great story that the world needs to know. No matter how distant and detached its portrayal may be.

I bet a lot of kids born in the new millenium haven’t even heard of it.

I know a lot of you would call, or at least consider, me a dick for putting Marshall Applewhite in for what looks more or less like a eulogy post for Robin Williams. But I am actually so overwhelmed by this that this is all what I can sincerely write about.

I used to watch Applewhite’s or Do’s video for hours. And there is something about his eyes that mesmerized you. And just like everyone who likes to tell stories, I thought. Hey, this would make a great movie.

The next logical question was who could actually play Applewhite.

Well, who better than Robin Williams. The man who can play anyone and anything.

He actually would have been my first choice to play Peter Sellers in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, and it is said that he was considered. But given the physical likeness, probably we were better off with Geoffrey Rush playing him. Another very talented actor.



But long story short, Robin Williams is just perfect to play him.

Considering how most people consider Applewhite a fanatic, no, this is not meant to be a satire or a comedy. It is supposed to be a biopic drama. And if you think Applewhite’s life was funny, well good luck.

Where is the compassion?

But I am not ashamed to say I am sympathetic of Marshall Applewhite, despite he can arguably be charged for murder of other followers of the Heaven’s Gate cult. But what a fascinating cult. As intellectual in a way, as it was delusional.

But Robin Williams could have so perfectly captured the emotional personality of Do. at least he would have been successful able to emanate the vibe of the charismatic cult leader. Only he could have done it so perfectly.

Recall Robin Williams playing Sy Parrish in One Hour Photo? One of his most dazzling and darker films in recent years. I won’t say it would convince you, but it can actually tell you of the great versatility of his acting talent. And that he was perfect for the role.

Hell, he was perfect for any role.

So I mourn, and become teary eyed, not just because we have lost Robin Williams. I always found his humor with a tinge of sadness.

Some idiot had complained about how mourning on social media was actually about the people themselves. Of course, it is. The mourning is about us. We have lost Robin Williams. He is dead. He is happy. Hopefully.

Again, I always found his humor with a tinge of sadness.

I found Bicentennial Man too heavy to watch. Is there a darker, sadder film with someone funny in it? Even fun films such as Jumanji have that emotional bittersweet value that you can’t separate your childhood from it.

But you can’t stop adoring his films.

I love Robin Williams the revolutionary in Good Morning VietnamPatch Adams and Dead Poet’s Society. I love Robin Williams the psychotic in Insomnia and One Hour Photo too. And even more so the ascetic lover in The Fisher King. Oscar anyone?

And of course, everybody loves Mrs. Doubtfire.

Can anyone possibly hate him? I guess there are a few nuts.

RIP Robin Williams.

Certainly the greatest actor of our times.

The Life & Death of Rajesh Khanna


Rajesh Khanna passed away on July 18, 2012 and somehow I was sensing it for quite a few months. And I know you don’t have to be a psychic for that, a lot of people had the same feeling as well. Everybody knew it was going to happen and everybody knew they would feel terrible about it, unless for some reason they either hated Rajesh Khanna or old Bollywood.

Speaking of people hating Rajesh Khanna, it was only a coincidence that the May 2012 issue of Stardust had republished an article dating May 1986 in their “Blast from the Past” section, reading “How Rajesh Khanna Tried to Molest a Newcomer” with the subheading of “A Star-Mother’s Cry of Anguish”. The article features explicit references of Rajesh Khanna’s attempts of molesting the then-newcomer actress Sabia and how Dimple Kapadia’s father detested him as a pervert.

While this would forever establish Rajesh Khanna as a typical male culprit in the eyes of many, I must confess that it only makes him more interesting and mysterious to a part of some of us. Without glorifying the alleged acts. Though not sure how trustworthy this gossipy magazine is. Also, It is worth noticing how Rajesh Khanna would have felt a couple of months before his death had he noticed this article himself. Why I am talking about this, I am not sure but just because this has brought forth to me a dark yet fascinating and mysterious side of a superstar who is a household name.

Source: Mid Day

I cannot really say if I have been a huge Rajesh Khanna fan, or one at all, but I had absolutely no choice on how much his films would influence my life, as would be the case with many of you, because I literally grew up watching them. I am a huge old Bollywood fan and it was the golden age of Bollywood when Rajesh Khanna reigned supreme as the undisputed superstar of the silverscreen, particularly the fascinating 70s. He had a haunting face, it disturbed me as a child, yet I could not tell if I loved it or hated it. It was impossible to ignore him.

Some of my most favorite Bollywood songs were from the movies of Rajesh Khanna and that is something which becomes a part of you forever and ever. It is just a matter of feeling it and it is just a matter of acknowledging it, or you could just choose to ignore it. I think the day of his death was a good occasion when at least I would consider it important to stop ignoring it. I must confess I have been thinking about the old man quite a lot over many months. How he must be living. What must be going through his mind. How his relation would have evolved with Dimple Kapadia after the separation.

I think Rajesh Khanna was an important actor, though I cannot say that he was a great actor, but an important one because he appeared in very important motion pictures such as “Anand”, “Amar Prem”, “Aradhana”, “Kati Patang” and “Mere Jeevan Saathi”. I am missing a lot in this list I know, especially the mention of his killer pair with one of my favorites Sharmila Tagore. However, this was a time when Bollywood still pursued somewhat intellectual subjects in its filmmaking in a subtle manner, confronting existential issues, reflecting on life and death and how humans coped with tragedies, much of which has been turned into monkey circus, especially in the last two decades of Bollywood.

I think Rajesh Khanna was an actor that marked the golden era of Bollywood, the end of which just saw the beginning of its monkey circus. This is why he is important and this is why he needs to be remembered, regardless of the fact that he must be overrated and perhaps not as skilled an actor as his worshiping fans may claim him to be, as some would like to point out. It does not matter, he achieved all that and at the end of the day, you cannot help but like him.

One of the reasons I am a Rajesh Khanna fan is the fact that Kishore Kumar, who is my all-time favorite singer, was always the voice behind his face on the screen. This is something that I simply cannot ignore. One of the greatest songs that touched me from his movie “Safar” was none other than “Zindagi Ka Safar”. I often wondered while listening to this song what Kishore Kumar would have felt while singing it and what Rajesh Khanna would have gone through filming it, and especially when he would have looked back at it after all the years that had passed.

Whatever those thoughts maybe, I simply cannot get this song out of my head ever since Rajesh Khanna’s demise.

Rest in Peace.


August 24, 2012 – 1720 HRS

Update: Thanks to Roshni Mitra, a correction in the post. The film “Kora Kagaz” did not feature Rajesh Khanna. Thanks for pointing it out. Corrected.