Archive for April 5, 2013

Roger EbertTalking about Roger Ebert, or Ebert saab, as i like to call him, you wonder where to start. It’s quite a daunting task. In the last few years whenever i have read anything written by him, i have always wondered only one thing – how much he writes? No, really – HOW MUCH HE WRITES? He doesn’t eat, drink, or speak, but he keeps on writing – reviews, blogs, books, tweets. No wonder he has left behind such a huge legacy for cinema lovers. Google him and you will get to read so many great articles about him. Search on youtube and there’s so much to watch – him, his shows, interviews, appearances.

With twitter, a different kind of fun began. He never replied to me but you could tag him, tweet to him and troll him. Many times people told me to that look at the old man, how can you troll him? But I always looked at it him in a different way. Why should we have “old-man-who-cant-eat-cant-drink-cant-talk-bechara” attitude towards him? Let’s look at him “normally”. The way we behave with anyone else whom we respect. Am sure he didn’t mind because he also behaved in a similar way – to make it look all normal. Like us, he would happily keep on trolling Mitt Roney non-stop for many days. Once he even tweeted a link to the piece which blamed him for killing film criticism. Like his “your movie sucks” posts, his tweets were fun and snarky. And sometimes controversial too. Aha, he was just like us. At least on twitter. Oh, and like us he pissed off many people too. Remember this post?

I don’t exactly remember when and how i started following his reviews but it’s surely been many many years ago. Though ironical that this blog is named after one of the movies that he never liked. And he kept defending his stand many years later too. I often wondered why, and trolled him every time he wrote or mentioned something about Fight club. A great movie is worth a good fight, right? At least a twitter fight.

Over the years i realised that when he wrote about his life, or life in general, that’s where you could see the real magic in his writing. Things that you have observed, experienced, but could never articulate in words, he did that with much ease and in simple words. And maybe that’s why his reviews had the rare quality of “empathy”. Someone who could sense something so profound in mundane things, how could he not sense that in cinema. “Perceptive” could easily be his middle name.

I also noticed that he always kept the best lines for his last para. Sometimes the review would read like a fairly simple one – the plot, what’s good, what’s bad, and then he would sum it up with a statement that will keep you hooked. You keep on going back to those lines in every discussion about that film. Something that other reviewers rarely managed. It’s like putting a human face to the review. And then sitting close to him, holding his pulse like a good doctor, looking into his eyes, and telling him that let the world misunderstand you, i got you. So am going to quote some of his last lines/para from some of my recent favourite films which have stayed with me for a long time. All because of that humanist touch.

As a friend struggles to come to terms with his abrupt separation and tries to find a reason to justify it, the last two lines of Blue Valentine review never sounded so true.

I wonder what kind of script conferences Cianfrance had with his co-writers, Joey Curtis and Cami Delavigne. They were writing about something ineffable, a void, a need. This wasn’t a story with convenient hooks involving things like, you know, disease — things stories are familiar with. It was about inner defeat and the exhaustion of hope. I’ve read reviews saying Cianfrance isn’t clear about what went wrong as they got from there to here. Is anybody?

From We Need To Talk About Kevin

Eva often looks like she’s in a state of shock. Her body can’t absorb more punishment. She is the wrong person in the wrong life with the wrong child. Is her husband as zoned out as he seems or is that only her perception? As a portrait of a deteriorating state of mind, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a masterful film. Swinton told me of a line in the script that wasn’t used, wisely, I believe. After you see the film, think about it. She asks Kevin why he didn’t kill her. His reply: “You don’t want to kill your audience.”

The pure epic last line from Jero Dreams Of Sushi review

Standing behind his counter, Jiro notices things. Some customers are left-handed, some right-handed. That helps determine where they are seated at his counter. As he serves a perfect piece of sushi, he observes it being eaten. He knows the history of that piece of seafood. He knows his staff has re??cently started massaging an octopus for 45 minutes and not half an hour, for example. Does he search a customer’s eyes for a signal that this change has been an improvement? Half an hour of massage was good enough to win three Michelin stars. You realize the tragedy of Jiro Ono’s life is that there are not, and will never be, four stars.

And that simple and profound statement for Herzog in “Into The Abyss” review

Opposition to the death penalty, in part, comes down to this: No one deserves to be assigned the task of executing another person. I think that’s what Captain Allen is saying. Herzog may agree, although he doesn’t say so. In some of his films he freely shares his philosophy and insights. In this film, he simply looks. He always seems to know where to look.

From   Drive review

An actor who can fall in love with a love doll and make us believe it, as he did in “Lars and the Real Girl” (2007), can achieve just about anything. “Drive” looks like one kind of movie in the ads, and it is that kind of movie. It is also a rebuke to most of the movies it looks like.

From Inception review

The movies often seem to come from the recycling bin these days: Sequels, remakes, franchises. “Inception” does a difficult thing. It is wholly original, cut from new cloth, and yet structured with action movie basics so it feels like it makes more sense than (quite possibly) it does. I thought there was a hole in “Memento:” How does a man with short-term memory loss remember he has short-term memory loss? Maybe there’s a hole in “Inception” too, but I can’t find it. Christopher Nolan reinvented “Batman.” This time he isn’t reinventing anything. Yet few directors will attempt to recycle “Inception.” I think when Nolan left the labyrinth, he threw away the map.

From Revolutionary Road

The direction is by Sam Mendes, who dissected suburban desperation in “American Beauty,” a film that after this one seems merciful. The screenplay by Justin Haythe is drawn from the famous 1961 novel by Richard Yates, who has been called the voice of the postwar Age of Anxiety. This film is so good it is devastating. A lot of people believe their parents didn’t understand them. What if they didn’t understand themselves?

From Man Push Cart review

Bahrani was inspired by “The Myth of Sisyphus,” by Albert Camus, the story of a man who spends his life pushing a rock up a hill, only to see it roll down again, and only push it back up again. Well, what else can he do? “Man Push Cart” is not an indictment of the American economy or some kind of political allegory. It is about what it is about. I think the message may be that it is better, after all, to push the cart than to face a life without purpose at the bottom of the hill.

From About Schmidt review

“About Schmidt” is billed as a comedy. It is funny to the degree that Nicholson is funny playing Schmidt, and funny in terms of some of his adventures, but at bottom it is tragic. In a mobile home camp, Schmidt is told by a woman who hardly knows him, “I see inside of you a sad man.” Most teenagers will probably not be drawn to this movie, but they should attend. Let it be a lesson to them. If they define their lives only in terms of a good job, a good paycheck and a comfortable suburban existence, they could end up like Schmidt, dead in the water. They should start paying attention to that crazy English teacher.

From The Savages

“The Savages” confronts a day that may come in all of our lives. Two days, actually, the first when we are younger, the second when we are older. “The Ballad of Narayama,” a great Japanese film, is about a community that decides when a person has outlived any usefulness and leaves that person on the mountain to die. It seems cruel, but even the dying seem to think it appropriate. Better that, after being healthy and strong once, than to be reduced to writing on walls with excrement.

Lars And The Real Girl

How this all finally works out is deeply satisfying. Only after the movie is over do you realize what a balancing act it was, what risks it took, what rewards it contains. A character says at one point that she has grown to like Bianca. So, heaven help us, have we.

 If we can feel that way about a new car, why not about a lonely man’s way to escape from sitting alone in the dark?

The Squid and the Whale review

These kids will be okay. Someday Bernard and Joan will be old and will delight in their grandchildren, who will no doubt be miserable about the flaws and transgressions of Walt and Frank, and then create great achievements and angry children of their own. All I know is, it is better to be the whale than the squid. Whales inspire major novels.

There are many such other reviews with some great lines. These were just few of those which were on top of my mind. If you got a favourite one, do post it in the comments section.

And talking about last few lines, let me end this post with last lines from his essay on Death which he wrote for Salon. He surely knew it all – life, cinema, and his death too. It’s eerie. You can read the entire piece here.

Someday I will no longer call out, and there will be no heartbeat. I will be dead. What happens then? From my point of view, nothing. Absolutely nothing. All the same, as I wrote to Monica Eng, whom I have known since she was six, “You’d better cry at my memorial service.” I correspond with a dear friend, the wise and gentle Australian director Paul Cox. Our subject sometimes turns to death. In 2010 he came very close to dying before receiving a liver transplant. In 1988 he made a documentary named “Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent van Gogh.” Paul wrote me that in his Arles days, van Gogh called himself “a simple worshiper of the external Buddha.” Paul told me that in those days, Vincent wrote:

Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map.

Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?

Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. We cannot get to a star while we are alive any more than we can take the train when we are dead. So to me it seems possible that cholera, tuberculosis and cancer are the celestial means of locomotion. Just as steamboats, buses and railways are the terrestrial means.

To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.

That is a lovely thing to read, and a relief to find I will probably take the celestial locomotive. Or, as his little dog, Milou, says whenever Tintin proposes a journey, “Not by foot, I hope!”



कल चश्मे-बद्दूर देखी. असली वाली. सई परांजपे, फारुक शेख, राकेश बेदी, रवि बासवानी, विनोद नागपाल, सईद जाफरी, और (बे-इन्तहा सुन्दर) दीप्ति नवल वाली. दिल, दिमाग, और सिगरेट वाली. और इतना मज़ा आया जितना पिछले कई सालों में किसी हिंदी कॉमेडी फिल्म में नहीं आया.

बहुत से लोग कहेंगे वो इसलिए क्योंकि ये ईमानदारी से बनायी हुयी सीधी-सादी फिल्म है. लेकिन मेरे हिसाब से इसमें सिर्फ ईमानदारी, सादगी, और nostalgia जैसे कारण उठाकर फिल्म की तारीफ़ करना ज्यादती है. फिल्म में भर भर के craft और writing का जादू है. बहुत ही progressive, contemporary, और smart film है.  2013 में भी. फिल्म का पहला सीन ही – जिसमें एक जलती सिगरेट एक हाथ से दूसरे हाथ से एक पाँव का सफ़र करते हुए तीनों लड़कों को सिंगल टेक में introduce करती है – मेरे लिए हिंदी सिनेमा के इतिहास के सबसे शानदार opening scenes में से एक है. यहाँ से आप सई परांजपे की absurd, intelligent दुनिया में कदम रखते हैं. इस दुनिया में एक अत्यंत शास्त्रीय गीत (काली घोड़ी द्वार खड़ी) एक अत्यंत western visual (लड़की को impress करने के लिए पूरे स्टाइल से अपनी काली मोटरसाइकल पर आता हुआ लड़का) के साथ gel हो जाता है, हीरो-हीरोइन पार्क में बैठकर फिल्मों का मज़ाक उड़ाते हैं कि उनमें हीरो हीरोइन पार्क में गाना कैसे गा लेते हैं और कोई उन्हें टोकता भी नहीं और अगले ही सीन में खुद पार्क में गाना गाते हैं और अंत में टोके जाते हैं, और अरस्तु-ग़ालिब-औरंगजेब संवादों में ऐसी जगहों पर आते हैं कि अगर आपने इतिहास ठीक से पढ़ा है तो आपको सिर्फ इसी बात से ख़ुशी हो जायेगी कि अरस्तु-ग़ालिब-औरंगजेब की जिंदगियों का निचोड़ किसी हिंदी कॉमेडी फिल्म में भी हुआ था.


बड़े परदे पर देखने से ढेरों नए details भी मिले. लड़कों के कमरे में लगे पोस्टर्स में शबाना आज़मी और सुलक्षना पंडित (सई की पिछली फिल्म ‘स्पर्श’ में सुलक्षना ने शबाना के लिए २ गाने गाये थे), मद्रासी रेस्तौरेंट में सचमुच की तमिल बोलने वाला वेटर, बाईक हमेशा फारूक शेख की किक से ही क्यों स्टार्ट होती है इसका कारण, दीप्ति नवल की आँखों की असली गहराई, और सिगरेट के लहराते धुएं का फिल्म में एक पूरा किरदार होना. ऐसा कहा जा सकता है कि उस कमरे में तीन नहीं, चार दोस्त रहते थे. और एक आज की हालत जहां फिल्म में कोई किरदार अपने सपने के third level पे भी सिगरेट पीने की सोचे तो सेंसर बोर्ड की कुत्तापने से भरी वाहियात warning स्क्रीन पे तैरने लगती है, चश्मे-बद्दूर में सिगरेट का इतना खुला इस्तेमाल अपने आप में एक full-fledged reason है फिल्म देखने का.

लेकिन बात चली है चश्मे-बद्दूर की तो मुझे याद आई मिहिर पांड्या की शानदार किताब ‘शहर और सिनेमा – वाया दिल्ली’ (वाणी प्रकाशन), जिसमें मेरा सबसे पसंदीदा चैप्टर इसी फिल्म पर है. इस किताब पर बहुत दिनों से कुछ लिखने की सोच रहा था. आधा अधूरा लिखा भी है जो अब नीचे चिपकाने जा रहा हूँ. और साथ ही में है इसी किताब से लिया हुआ पूरा लेख चश्मे बद्दूर पर जिसमें मिहिर चश्मे-बद्दूर को ढूंढते ढूंढते तालकटोरा गार्डन तक गए (जहां की टूटी-फ्रूटी खा खा कर फिल्म में फारूक शेख और दीप्ति नवल को प्यार हो जाता है और जहां का वेटर दिबाकर बनर्जी की ओये लक्की लक्की ओये के वेटर का पुरखा लगता है) और एक नयी ही कहानी ढूंढ कर लाये इस फिल्म को समझने की.


(मिहिर की किताब ‘शहर और सिनेमा वाया दिल्ली’ पर मेरा छोटा लेख)

शहर, सिनेमा, और उन्हें देखने वाला

मुझे ठीक से नहीं पता कि उन्होंने ये क्यों किया लेकिन हाल ही में मेरे पापा ने मुझे कुछ पुरानी तस्वीरें भेजीं. अखबार में फुटबॉलर फर्नांडो टोरेज़ की अपने बच्चे को गोद में उठा कर फुटबॉल खेलते फोटो आई थी. उसको देख कर पापा को मुझे कुछ पुरानी तस्वीरें भेजने का मन किया. इनमें से एक है जिसमें उन्होंने मुझे लगभग उसी तरह से उठाया हुआ है जैसे टोरेज़ ने अपने बच्चे को उठाया है. एक में ४ साल का मैं अपने हिमाचली घर के आंगन में उदास सा खड़ा हूँ. आधी धूप, आधी छाँव के बीच.

इन्हीं तस्वीरों के बीच एक तस्वीर अजब सी है. यह सुंदरनगर (ज़िला मंडी, हिमाचल) की बहुत ऊंचाई से, शायद आसपास की किसी पहाड़ी से, ली गयी फोटो है. फोटो के पीछे उसके खींचे जाने का साल १९७८ लिखा है. इसमें पेड़, सड़क, मंदिर, गुरुद्वारा, सरकारी क्वार्टर, और सामने वाला पहाड़ दिख रहा है. और एक जगह एक गोदाम जैसी दिखने वाली बिल्डिंग के आगे एक पैन से हरा क्रॉस का निशान लगा हुआ है. यह निशान भी १९७८ में ही लगाया गया है. यह निशान वही पिक्चर हॉल है जहाँ मैंने अपनी ज़िंदगी की पहली फिल्में देखीं थी. यह अध-पीली तस्वीर, जिसे किन्हीं इमोशनल कारणों से पापा ने अब तक संभाल कर रखा था अब मुझ तक आ गयी. यह तस्वीर अब मुझे गूगल पर आज का सुंदरनगर ढूँढने पर मजबूर करती है. मैं ढूँढता हूँ और किस्मत से लगभग वैसी ही एक पहाड़ी से ली हुई आज की तस्वीर मिल भी जाती है. लेकिन मन नहीं भरता. अब यही तस्वीर मुझे वापस सुंदरनगर लेकर जायेगी, ऐसा लगता है. १९८५ में सुंदरनगर छोड़ने के बाद पहली बार. जल्द ही.

शहरों से हमारा रिश्ता ऐसा ही होता है. हम उनमें रहते हैं लेकिन उनके छूट जाने के बाद वो हम में रहने लगते हैं. मैंने कहीं पढ़ा था हमें सबसे ज़्यादा सपने १२ से २२ की उमर के बीच के अनुभवों के आते हैं. मतलब छोटे शहर/कसबे छोड़कर आए लोग ज़िंदगी भर बड़े शहरों में रहते हुए उन्हीं पुरानी जगहों के सपने देखते रहते हैं. या कहें तो आधी ज़िंदगी फिर भी उन्हीं जगहों में बिताते हैं. बस वो ज़िंदगी नींद में होती है इसलिए नॉन-लीनियर और कम वैल्यू की होती है. अपनी नयी किताब, ‘शहर और सिनेमा – वाया दिल्ली’ के लिए मिहिर पांड्या ने भी बार बार दिल्ली छोड़ी और फिर वापस उसमें लौटे. दिल्ली से सीधी जुड़ी एक-एक हिंदी फिल्म के ज़रिये शहर में घुसे और निकले. इस किताब में ऐसा उन्होंने १६ बार किया. शहर के रास्ते सिनेमा को देखा और सिनेमा के रास्ते शहर को.

किताब पढते हुए आप देख सकते हैं मिहिर को अपने नॉर्थ-कैम्पस के बरसाती-नुमा घर को ताला मारकर बाहर निकलते हुए. सड़क पर चलते-चलते हर जगह की एक मैंटल तस्वीर खींचते हुए और उस तस्वीर को किसी फिल्म में ढूंढते हुए. आप देख सकते हैं गुडगाँव तरफ के खाली मैदानों में बन रहे नए रिहायशी इलाकों से गुज़रते मिहिर को ‘खोसला का घोंसला’ याद करते हुए. आप देख सकते हैं मिहिर को आइवरी मर्चेंट की ‘हाउसहोल्डर’ में जंतर-मंतर का सीन आते ही कूद पड़ते हुए. मिहिर ने फिल्म में जंतर-मंतर पर फिल्माए गए इस सीन का गहरा symbolism खोजा है. फिल्म में एक जगह पर हमारा हिन्दुस्तानी हीरो जंतर-मंतर में जौगिंग करते हुए एक अमेरिकी बंदे से टकरा जाता है. देश अभी-अभी आज़ाद हुआ है. माहौल नयी उम्मीद का है. दोनों में बात शुरू हो जाती है. हीरो (शशि कपूर) अमेरिकी बंदे अर्नेस्ट को बता रहा है कि आज़ादी के बाद हम कितने आधुनिक हो गए हैं. और अमेरिकी है कि आधुनिकता को भाव दिए बिना हमारे अनंत-ज्ञान, योग, आध्यात्म की तारीफ़ किये जा रहा है. मिहिर का कहना है कि यह सीन जंतर-मंतर की वजह से जादुई हो जाता है क्योंकि – “दिल्ली के ऐन हृदय में बसे जंतर-मंतर को आधुनिकता और परंपरा का सबसे सुन्दर प्रतीक कहा जा सकता है.” और निर्देशक ने “इस विरोधाभासी आदान-प्रदान के लिए” ही ऐसी जगह पर सीन रखा है.

फिर आप देख सकते हैं मिहिर को राजघाट और इण्डिया गेट और संसद भवन और राष्ट्रपति भवन और चांदनी चौक और सरोजिनी नगर और पीतमपुरा को जोड़कर दिल्ली की एक बड़ी तस्वीर बनाते हुए. और उस तस्वीर से दिल्ली के दो बड़े विभाजन – दिल्ली की सत्ता (“काट कलेजा दिल्ली”, “पिछड़े-पिछड़े कह कर हमको खूब उडाये खिल्ली, दिल्ली” वाली सत्ता) और रोज़मर्रा (“सिंगल है कि बैचलर”, “मसकली” वाला रोज़मर्रा) को अलग-अलग फिल्मों के आधार पर छाँटते हुए. आप देख सकते हैं देर रात अपने कम्प्युटर पर अपने गैर-दिल्ली दोस्तों से बतियाते हुए भी मिहिर के अंदर चलते ‘शहर’ को. किताब की भूमिका में ही मिहिर ने लिखा है:

“मैं एक रात आभासी संजाल पर मुम्बई की कुछ आकाशीय तस्वीरें लगाता हूँ. अचानक पहली बारिश पर कविता लिखने वाली एक लड़की जवाब में लिखती है कि यह दुनिया का सबसे शानदार शहर है. मैं रवि वासुदेवन का कहा उसके लिखे के नीचे उतारता हूँ, “बच्चन की देह मुम्बई की लम्बवत रेखाओं के वास्तु से एकमेक हो जाती है.” लड़की चुहल करती है जवाब में, “फिर शाहरुख को कैसे एक्सप्लेन करेंगे?” मैं जानता हूँ, लड़की इन नायकों पर नहीं, उस ऊँची महत्वाकांक्षाओं वाले महानगर पर फ़िदा है. कहती है, “ये शहर नहीं, फलसफा है.””

“यहाँ से शहर को देखो”

मिहिर के ही लिखे एक पुराने लेख (जयदीप वर्मा की ‘हल्ला’ पर) का शीर्षक है – यहाँ से शहर को देखो. यह इस किताब का unused title भी कहा जा सकता है. किताब का हर निबंध एक नई रोशनी में दिल्ली दिखाता है. लेकिन चमत्कार सिर्फ इतना ही नहीं है. मेरे हिसाब से असली उपलब्धि यह है कि किताब दिल्ली के ज़रिये हमारे सिनेमा को भी परखती है. जैसे कि ‘सत्ता का शहर’ हिस्से के एक निबंध, जो कि शिमित अमीन की ‘चक दे इण्डिया’ पर है, में मिहिर दिल्ली के elitist bent को फिल्म में भी देखते हैं और एक झटके में ही इस National Integration Film का खोखलापन सामने ला पटकते हैं.

मिहिर के अनुसार ‘चक दे इण्डिया’ में “दिल्ली के आसपास के इलाकों और ‘ऊँचे’ बैकग्राउंड से आई लड़कियाँ ही फ़िल्म के केन्द्र में हैं. दिल्ली के लिए हाशिए पर रहने वाले इलाकों को जगह तो दी गयी है लेकिन पूरी फ़िल्म में वे किरदार हाशिए पर ही रहे हैं.”

यह एक नयी चाबी है. यह चाबी बिना दिल्ली, दिल्ली की पॉलिटिक्स, और उस पॉलिटिक्स का काइयाँपन जाने नहीं लगेगी. और ऐसी चाबियों से उन्होंने लगभग हर निबंध में शहर-और-सिनेमा के नए ताले खोले हैं.

जैसा कि मैंने कहा मिहिर ने किताब को दो बड़े हिस्सों में बाँटा है. दिल्ली को सत्ता का शहर (६ फिल्में, जिनमें ‘हज़ारों ख्वाहिशें ऐसी’ और ‘रंग दे बसंती’ शामिल है) और रोज़मर्रा का शहर (१० फिल्में जिनमें ‘ओए लक्की..’, ‘डेल्ही बेली’ और ‘तेरे घर के सामने’ शामिल है) कह कर दो अलग नज़रियों से देखा है. हर फ़िल्म पर निबंध ७ से १० पेज का है और हर निबंध दिल्ली और सिनेमा पर ढेर सारे keen observations से भरा-पूरा है.

इसी किताब का चश्मे-बद्दूर वाला लेख आपकी नज़र हो रहा है.  फिल्म देखकर इसे पढ़ें या इसे पढ़कर फिल्म देखें….दोनों मामलों में आपकी ही जीत होगी.



चश्मे बद्दूर पर मिहिर का लेख:


वरुण ग्रोवर 

(Also, many thanks and congratulations to Shiladitya Bora of PVR Director’s Rare for putting his time and passion behind the re-release of such classics.)

In Conversation with Roger Ebert

Posted: April 5, 2013 by moifightclub in Life Itself
Tags: ,

Though many of us wished to communicate with him (heck, i even trolled him on twitter to get some attention, not once, many times) not many of us were lucky enough to find a communication channel for Roger Ebert, or Ebert saab as we like to call him. Natasha Badhwar was among those lucky ones. How? As the say, internet, you beauty! So re-posting an old post by her.


Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!

Roger Ebert started it.

He wrote a straight from the heart piece about why he tweets and how it is a positive force for him. It is a substitute for something he lost, and a darned good replacement it is.
“I am in conversation. When you think about it, Twitter is something like a casual conversation among friends over dinner: Jokes, gossip, idle chatter, despair, philosophy, snark, outrage, news bulletins, mourning the dead, passing the time, remembering favorite lines, revealing yourself.”
Then he mentioned people he follows on twitter. Gave me some generous compliments.
“I said it was impossible to think of great writing in terms of 140 characters. I have been humbled by a mother of three in New Delhi.….
In the morning, I’ll find a poetic tweet waiting from the wonderful @natashabadhwar, who is a filmmaker and photographer in New Delhi and most of all a mum of three….
I was away from home, on summer vacation in my husband’s parents home in Village Adilabad, District Ghazipur, India. I picked up a pen and paper and wrote him a reply. Later I found a somewhat dodgy internet connection and sent it off. It is posted in the Comments section of the link mentioned on the top of this page. It goes like this:
By Natasha Badhwar on June 18, 2010 7:15 AM
Dear Roger,
Hi, this is the mother of three from New Delhi. We are far away from Delhi, I am typing from a borrowed internet connection. It is late in this hot, dusty, quiet village in East UP. We are in one of our homes. Summer holiday.

I came to Twitter to find a quiet private place where I could put back the pieces of a self that felt broken and bruised in many places. To climb out of the dark hole in which I found myself.

I had turned away from the wonderful world around me, a world that I thrived in, succeeded in, and one that I was hooked to. Yet it was also a place that was superficial and hollow; where truth had been painted over in dark colors. Where it seemed forbidden to raise questions, make inquiries and seek change. (Among other things I had been working in news television for longer than necessary.)

I found that I could not be a mother to my children in this world. I did not know how to nurture myself and those I loved. I did not know how to reconnect with the God who had bailed me out so many times in my teens and early youth.


“Lie fallow. It is vast, empty, raw and sore. But it is fertile.”

Everything seemed alright and yet it did not. Beauty ruled our senses, yet it was not enough. I missed my friends, yet I needed something else more urgently.

“The only way to begin to hear my voice was to walk towards the silence.”
“The view from the surface was fine, it was even beautiful. Yet, for reasons unknown to herself, she took the plunge.”

Tweet by tweet, update by update, I began to create a world that I could live in, that I did live in. I wrote to console and entertain, to live in the moment, the moment that in itself was the meaning of my life. I wrote dreams and memories, I began to share and expand my world. I sent out, I received.

“Baby Nam sleeps in my lap, her cheek listening to my heart. Good night for now”
“Mamma, there are many different worlds out there, but the same one sky for all. Aliza returns from her travels.”
“The little girl was very attached to things. She realized that it seemed silly. She transferred her love and loyalty to imaginary people”

For a while I lived at home with myself and met the outside world via internet. I needed to build spaces where love, beauty, humor and inspiration would dominate. I needed to replenish and nourish. To shed my defenses and rip away the cloak of timidity. And bring to the fore everything that I know matters.

“Confidence is a paper plane. It soars, it crashes, I fold a new one.”
“I know anger, I know hate and sadness. I don’t bring them here, they’re useless on stage. Here I practice alchemy, I come to meet alchemists”

Eventually, my alchemy began to work. Eventually, I found other alchemists on Twitter.

Thank you, Roger Ebert, for your smartness and generosity, for your childlike wonder and joy in the world around us. Your confidence in your sixth sense is so inspiring, I’m afraid I’m going to end up doing some very foolish things soon as I resolve to follow my own sixth sense.

“6 year old’s today what-to-do list
“Ask Baby Nam what Papa did when the monkeys sneaked in today, and she will raise her arm and throw imaginary shoes at you”


Ebert: Natasha, you are my shining light on Twitter. You showed me what could be done. You make 140 characters into a universe. I am not surprised that you could have had a period of unhappiness and discontent. Anyone who evokes the joy in what you write could not do so without a deep sense of gratitude.

Readers: I know what you’re thinking. It is:

(Going by her twitter bio, Natasha Badhwar is “Somebody, everybody, nobody. Columnist for Mint Lounge”. Well, she is also mother of three, trainer and filmmaker. You can follow her on twitter here. And this post was originally published on her blog here.

(PS1 – Also, adding a new category (Guess?) for this post because i was confused where to put this post. Checked?)