Posts Tagged ‘Sourabh Usha Narang’

This isn’t a tale of heroic feats. It’s about two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams.

-Ernesto Guevara de la Serna

I am bad with names. I guess, terrible. And am very good with excuses. So, it gets compensated mostly. And that’s why whenever I save a new contact in my phone, I always add a suffix or prefix to the name. It makes life easier. Because whenever I am searching for anyone, if not the name, the suffix or prefix will help. Either place, profession, common friends, where we met, how  we met, why we met, and noun, pronoun, adjectives, verb (don’t pick) of all kinds.

Before I started writing the post, I quickly searched for PFC in my phone’s contacts list and believe it or not, the number of contacts with PFC as suffix is 44 – covering almost every alphabet from A(shish) to W(B), even Z if you count Zoorya (Surya) as I call him. And in the last few years some of them have become 4am friends too. And am not counting any filmmaker, producer, writer or celeb here, with them it’s always aspirational, at least to start with. Talking about mere mortals like us. Friends from across states, nations and even continents. Many of us have met each other, shared our stories and bonded over everything that’s life. At the end of the day,  I guess, that’s what PFC has done. Internet, you beauty. Add cinema, and we are alive.

PFC started in August-September 2006. I guess I joined in December. How, why – don’t remember exactly. I wasn’t in a boring cubicle and my day job wasn’t boring either. Then? Must have been a google search for ‘Anurag Kashyap’. Because there was a time when PFC = AK, which wasn’t true but the industry always thought so. “Oh, AK’s mouthpiece. So much negativity on that site!”. Well, that’s the way it was.  Just because we had endless rounds of biryanis and drinks at his place with access to some of the best world cinema, it didn’t mean that we had to worship him or his friends. Criticise him and he will listen. He will argue, fight, try to make fun of you, put his favourite question to you, “tune kya likha/banaya hai?“. But that’s just him, trying to figure out if you really know your shit or just blabbering. And yeah, No Smoking had equal number of posts on both the extremes. Let me also confess that there were times when many comments which attacked AK were moderated and without telling anyone I used to approve them. If it’s about cinema, if someone is making a point that AK might not agree with, there is no point in blocking that comment. The general policy was to keeps the trolls away from filmmakers, keep the site clean but what’s life without some cheap thrills. If it’s AK’s cinema, his post, let him face it.

There was also Suparn Varma, Hansal Mehta, Pavan Kaul, Sourabh Usha Narang, Sam Longoria, Ramu Ramanathan, Bhavani Iyer (Onir, Navdeep Singh came onboard later) and some 30-35 bloggers from across the world. Forget everything else, we had no clue about each others names also. Some of us used to write posts with nicknames/handles and we used to address each with those handles. Honhaar Goonda, DPac, RK, Ranga, Macchar Kumar, Dabba – some of the handles that I can think of right now. Once a friend was visiting London and he needed some cash urgently. The first name that came to my mind was Honhar Goonda and I had to ask another friend for his real name. There were mele-mein-bichhde-huye-bhai too, Pavan Saab and Subrat: where Google fails, they come to the rescue. Do you know Chic Chocolate?

Then there was Kartik Krishnan (KK) – the face of PFC in Mumbai. He would go to any length to do anything for PFC, would travel any distance to meet any new author of PFC. With Vasan, three of us soon became the point persons for all kinds of activity. And the invisible brain, the hand, the man behind everything else was Oz. PFC was his idea, his intiative. Log milte gaye aur karwaan banta gaya.

For the first few years, it was all smooth. We never bothered to ask how the site was running, how much space, what the readership was and  other such technical details. That was all Oz’s headache. A bunch of 10-12 editors, including three of us, used to take editorial calls and we were busy blogging – shouting, screaming, fighting – all for cinema.

I might be completely wrong but I think the first time we had some kind of disagreement when a filmmaker gave the idea of turning PFC into commercial venture and someone decided to do it. Since it was mostly one man control as far as any cost was concern, it was all his call. Rest of us were foot soldiers. Discussion soon moved from club to chain mails and many of us expressed our discomfort about the way the decision was taken. We were blogging because we loved it, there was no intention of making it IndiaFM or any such commercial venture.

Of course there was ample space and time given to everyone to debate, discuss and put forward all kinds of suggestions in Club. Those days authorship wasn’t open to everyone, but by invitation only. We had a club for the authors which was not visible to the rest of the world. And countless nights have been spent on random discussion threads in that club. Those were the Club days too!

There was Review contest (Yes, Thani), One minute short film contest, Poster design contest, Pitcher contest – Oz was always the man to go and we would execute it in best possible way. TOI gave us half page coverage too, with some of us happily posing for the camera in the middle of  a busy road in Dadar’s Hindu colony. Aha, the cheap thrills. Every mention of PFC in the media was one step forward in making it more visible, making it more mainstream. The industry slowly took notice and mostly loved to hate us.

Krsn Kavita Kasturi (I hope I have got her name right) – She was one of the  respected blogger at PFC who knew her cinema quite well. As it mostly happened in the club, once she disagreed on some point which we all were gung-ho about. We were quick to brand her as PFC-Drohi and me and KK got into an altercation with her. I Still can’t remember what was the reason, the exact topic. Blame it on age. But we were PFC-Bhakts and she was PFCDrohi soon. She quit PFC after that. KKK, if you have Google Alert on, apologies from me. Because all this seems too trivial now.

And what a surprise, in the next two years, I was in her shoes. As a dozen of us  met last night  at a friend’s place and we started talking about PFC, we could not agree on one version of the story – how it started? Was it this or that? And there were alternate versions too. Why we could not agree on few things?

Among many other things (man with an agenda, conspirator), I was even branded racist. I could not figure out the reason then and discovered it much later that I had put a comment saying “firangi” or something like that in one of the threads in the Club and by that time one of us had got married to someone for whom that was racist remark or kind of. I tried the search option in my gmail, went through some mails, and gave up. Too tedious, too kiddish. There must be hundreds of those mails, may be we will tell our grand kids about it.

Like every story has my right side and your wrong side, it was the same for PFC. Also, it was “Catfish” syndrome for some of us. “Dude, he is so boring. Come on, we can’t say it to him. We have to meet him. No, you go away, I will skip.”  We also realised that the set-up was becoming too feudal. One man would control it all, he would not listen to anyone except those who  agree with him and celebrate him. We asked questions, raised our voice and it made things worse. The reason given was, “I quit my job, I gave my life and soul to it, my space, my time for it. How dare can anyone ask me what i want to do?”.  And we thought, “But who asked you to do so? We all have our jobs, we all still contribute”. The ping-pong game continued.

By that time, the commercial venture keeda had done the trick too. The critic we had no respect for and who is known for his extremely biased reviews, was asked if he would blog at PFC. Posts/blogs were done in tie-up with films/directors. The aim was to get more page views, more readership and thus generate revenue.

Things started piling up. All kind of decisions were taken on the basis of MBBS (Miyan-Biwi-Baccha-Samet). Many bloggers were finding an excuse to quit it.  Or as Roger Ebert wrote in the review of Blue Valentine, “I’ve read reviews saying Cianfrance isn’t clear about what went wrong as they got from there to here. Is anybody?” When in doubt, trust Ebert.

Oz also used to run, his personal blog. And there were some incidents where personal things got mixed up with PFC. It involved his family, he felt that some of us said/did something nasty about someone related to him, he wrote a post on it, we commented there, he was hurt, attacks, counter-attacks. And back to Ebert. Since there was no professional set-up for PFC, it was again Oz’s call. So, if he was pissed off with someone because of some personal reason, that also meant that it’s the end for him/her at PFC. You can take any side here and have your arguments, and we did the same. As I wrote earlier, I am not sure if this was the correct flow of the events. Flashbacks are not so smooth always as they show in movies. I might have missed many things but I am writing whatever I can remember now.

What else? I am still trying to think if there was any big reason apart from “making PFC commercial”. We tied up with Tehelka for PFC Awards, some felt we were moving too hastily,  some felt it’s better to do something rather than ponder over it and make powerpoint presentations. Few calls and more miscommunication – ‘how dare you hang up the phone, it was ISD call and so must have been the time difference my and your voice, you sent such a nasty SMS when I was going through a family crisis’, ‘But that was a joke and how am I supposed to know that you had a crisis at home..’ – everything that counts for the lovers’ tiff, we had it all. And like in every lovers’ tiff which ends in separation, this story is from one side, the other side’s story might be completely different.

I quit. KK quit. And for similar reasons some 20 authors also quit one after another. And we all felt strange that nobody thought that this was strange – if 20 active bloggers decide to quit one by one, there has to be some reason, some logic, some problem. Someone must be wrong somewhere. Naah, by that time it has straight forward – we are right, they are wrong. It was Us Vs Them. Those who stayed Vs Those who left. Those who stayed – we stayed at the worst period of PFC, we are friends, we saved him, saved PFC. Those who left – they don’t make any sense, it’s feudal approach, it’s MBBS, power drunk, dropping names, enough! It might have been lil’ bit of this, lil’ bit of that, some ego here and there, and that was the end for us. But I/we never thought that it would end in such a bitter way.

I started writing this as a Goodbye post and soon realised that it might not be a goodbye after all. But I thought it’s better to complete it.

So, Dear PFC – Cheers for all those 40 friends and 4am buddies, and apologies for all kinds of ugly spats, intentionally or otherwise, it just seems so funny now, or may be it was all for cheap thrill. May be we all were in our best possible Natural Born Killers avatar and part of that secret club. It was great fun till it lasted.

But no apologies for watching the 2nd half of Contract before the first half and then again going to the other screen to catch the first half, no apologies for asking Ramu, “Do you think you have lost it?”, no apologies for not liking No Smoking and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and million other such things.

(PS: Questions have been raised many times about exclusive authors/filmmakers. Why don’t they write more often? They come only for their film promotions. But let me clarify – most of the time we wanted them to blog. Except few, it was us who approached them. They were not dying to blog. We wanted them and they had a film for release, they had something to say, so they blogged whatever they could. There is no point in putting the blame on them. We were eager to get them onboard – always!)

(PPS – Hansal – Sirjee, I have never cooked for anyone.)

What else? Lots, but can’t remember. Told ya, the age.



RK now runs Cinemanthan,  Sameer went full time with his CinemaaOnline, Shripriya’s site is Tatvam, Mitch’s work can be seen at Bokehchaser, Fatema reviews films for Indiaentertainment and blogs at filmsandwords, and Pavan still runs GulzarOneline. Also, Indraneel can be found here, Sudhir is here, Jahan Bakshi writes here, Dipankar is here, and Srinivas here . And a bunch of us still create nuisance here at mFC. 🙂 For the rest, they are all on Facebook and Twitter.

Diving bells and a butterfly!

Posted: July 5, 2010 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, life, RIP, Thoughts

Since last ten days, was completely out of social network. Friends, colleagues, well wishers and readers of our blog sent messages, mailed and tweeted to ask where have I vanished. Was busy with life, and death. May be the toughest ten days of my life. Because its scary when Goldman’s great quote on showbiz seems to apply on life too – Nobody knows anything. What do you do then ? Pray ? But am a born atheist. May be not any more, may be am converting.

Mr S.U.N

Just back from ISKCON, Juhu. Director Anurag Basu and his friends organised a meet to remember Sourabh Usha Narang. The young director who passed away on 26th june after a prolonged battle with cancer.

In the morning, I was in Calcutta. After almost ten days, returned to Mumbai by noon. And then it was straight down to ISKCON. Unlike many others who  were present there, I wasn’t close to him, never worked with him and can’t really call him a friend too. But I knew him.  And I felt like going there. I generally avoid going for any kind of days…birthdays, deathdays and all days in between. Either am scared of something or I get bored easily!

Had met Sourabh few times, here and there. And then sometime back, we met formally, through a producer friend. He was working on a film, looking for a writer. Talking movies in bollylalaland, aha, there is no end to bitchfest.

We started with the film, went back to our school life, college days, his college friend whom I knew and passed him some goss that he was happy to hear and was surprised, his tv days, and the shows which I saw when I was in school/college. And it seemed like a never ending session that day. He asked me to write few scenes – some he liked, some he wanted a different tone. After that, it was a comma, i was told. Never imagined that it will turn into a fullstop so soon.

Many films die everyday – on paper, at producers office, at actor’s house but people don’t. At least, those whom we know. So easily, so early. At 37, that’s just cruel.

It was a sunday afternoon of untold stories and uncontrollable tears that rolled. What happens between two people, remains between them. And with Sourabh, I guess, there was lot that happened between  him and those who were there. Ketan Mehta, Anuradha Prasad, Mahesh Bhatt, Anurag Basu, Vijay Raaz, Vikas Behl, Chetan Motiwalla, Rucha Sharma,  Sachin Krishn,  Sohail Tatari, Vidya Balan and many of his friends came on stage to share those stories of dreams and demons, of fights and farewells, of writing and writhing,  of daaru parties and dramas, of coffee and cigarettes. The list in endless. Some were calm, others took long pauses to gather their thoughts, some left the stage with incomplete sentences and some  just could not control themselves. Its difficult talking about someone with whom you ever shared something memorable.

Kameena chala gaya…Vishal Bhardwaj’s voice choked as he remembered how Sourabh helped him direct his first short film. As he continued, the pauses became longer and he said he will  just wrap it with two songs that he feels like singing  – Paani paani re and the one that Sourabh loved – dil toh baccha hai ji. Rekha Bhardwaj and Ankur Tewari also sang – the songs that Sourabh loved, the songs that bonded them somehow, somewhere.

Saw many known and unknown faces, the auditorium was packed. Its rare in bollywood. Having seen the industry from close quarters in the last few years, have realised one thing – Nobody will come to your funeral if you had a glorious past but you have been out of work. And all the Khans & Kapoors will appear in spotless white if your next generation/company has a great future.  To put it simply, in showbiz, people care about the future, not the past. So, it felt great in a way. Because here it was about a filmmaker who made just one film (Vastu Shastra. He did lot of tv before that) but people wanted to talk about him, share their memories, tell those tales. Every good friend deserves such a goodbye. It reminded me of the essay topic in school which I could not understand for a long time – we live in deeds, not in years.

I used to call him Mr S.U.N. Shine, wherever you are mister!

And as the saying goes…the only difference between life and cinema is that in cinema everything has to make sense and in life, it doesn’t. Aha, life!

Diving bells and a butterfly

The day I got to know about Sourabh’s death, I was in Calcutta. Too much was going on in my life. Someone close (G) was detected with a tumor in her spine. And at an age of 83, every doctor warned us of the risks involved. What risk ? Anything can happen. ANYTHING! They didn’t want to spell the bad word. Solution – Only surgery. Or ? There is no way out. Tumour will keep on growing. So, in worst case scenario – it was slow death in five years or in just two hours. Almost everyone was against surgery. The warnings from the doctor had created more fear. Slow death – no way. Whatever happens, will happen – lets go for it, I thought.

It started with convincing my parents, close relatives and then the most important person – G! No, i cant do anything. But i tried to talk to her everyday to make it sound that there is no risk, its a small surgery, the result will depend on what she thinks and believes in. That’s it. Told her about Roger Ebert and how he survived. About 101 year old director Manoel de Oliveira whose film was at Cannes this year. Lil’ tales of big hope and survival. I was trying to boost her confidence but I was scared, shit scared! Sourabh’s sudden death made it look more scary. Viveka Babajee’s news was all over the news channels. Seemed like the universe was conspiring and wanting to tell a different tale to me. I was trying to run to other side.

Days were spent in hospital, in the night I would try to find a reason to return home late. Because at home, the same discussions would go in loop. Walking down long distances, window shopping and some random films in the theatres saved me.


Baba..baba…baba…baba…baba…she whispered into his right ear. Or at least she thought she is whispering. With every “baba” her voice was growing louder. The man on the  bed wasn’t responding in any way. There were several tubes, respirators and medical stuff which I cant identify, coming out and going in through different pores of his body. The man remained silent.

A security woman came from the other side announcing that visiting hours is over, time to leave. Please hurry up. The woman continued whispering Baba…baba…till the security woman asked her to leave the room.

Next day – I heard the same sound...baba…baba…baba….baba…the man was still silent. Third day, it was the same sound and the same expression. Fourth day…G was shifted to other room. Next day, I saw the woman’s face clearly, at the medical store. Completely calm, expressionless. May be her glasses covered her eyes or may be I need a new pair.

HDU Unit. Bed – 2460

The man on the left side of G’s bed was staring blankly at the ceiling.  Another man standing next to his bed, pulls out the earphones from his pocket, connects it to the mobile phone and puts the plugs  into the man’s ears. I guess it was some music he loved. They tried talking to him too. The man on the bed didn’t respond.

The next day, I smiled and we started talking. Got to know that the man on the bed was in CRPF. Had an accident, some major internal haemorrhage and now he  has stopped responding. Though he can hear. So, everyday, during the visiting hours, his friend and brother come and play the songs that he loved. I asked him what songs. But we were lost in translation. English-Hindi-Tamil-Bengali – there was no common ground. I said Paruthiveeran, Subramanipuram…two of my favourite tamil films in recent past, to connect the dots somewhere. He said Singam. And then Suriya. His first film, saar. I guess he was playing the songs from Suriya’s first film.

Visiting hours over. They quietly took out the earplugs and left. A male nurse informed me that its the same routine since last few days.

Red Rose

Coming out of the lift, saw a man on wheelchair. He had a red rose in his hand.  Think that’s the norm in the hospital, the sign of being discharged. Am not fond of flowers or roses as such, they look best in their natural environment. But this time I am desperately hoping for the red one. The surgery went fine. G survived. Finally a butterfly – it was a big relief. She asked for some hot drink just after she came out of the OT. The nurse smiled. She said was feeling very cold. I informed the nurse that Horlicks is her lifeline.

Was informed today that my G will be discharged soon. She is still under observation but is doing fine. Will she be able to walk again ? Goldman comes to mind again. And that’s the answer from the doctors too. Rest all depends on physiotherapy and her efforts. Yes, I will convert completely if G starts walking again.

( PS – Started writing the post yesterday. Could not complete. Was becoming too heavy. Also, do watch the film The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. Its a must must watch. The last film which blew my mind.)

Pic Courtesy – Am not sure who made that montage. It was put up at the meet along with few others. But whoever did it, thanks a ton)