Mee Vasantrao – a movie review

Mee Vasantrao’ is an amazing Marathi language movie. It’s a biopic of legendary Marathi singer, Vasantrao Deshpande who created a place for himself in the minds and hearts of Marathi music aficionados quite late in his life, when he was in 40’s.

Rahul Deshpande, grandson of Vasantrao Deshpande plays his grandfather’s role with aplomb. An excellent classical singer in his own right, Rahul doesn’t disappoint when it comes to acting. I had always thought that he had taken to acting as a hobby, taking acting roles which gave full scope to his unparalleled singing talent. How wrong I was! He has lived the role of his grandfather; I would go so far as to say that this is his career defining role. While he has acted well throughout, two moments in the movie really stood out for me; his heated exchange with traditional music purists in Pune and his take on the art of Baithakichi lavani.

If Rahul Deshpande impresses, Anita Date, who has played the role of Vasantrao’s mother, deserves awards galore for playing the role of a feisty, strong willed woman raising a child singlehandedly, with grace and confidence. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that she is the soul of this movie.

Pushkaraj Chirputkar, who plays the role of Vasantrao’s best friend, P. L. Deshpande or Pula, for short, is a surprise package. Playing the role of an extremely loved and respected personality in all Maharastrian households is no mean feat. Pula was known for his perfect comic timing and Pushkaraj has captured this nuance perfectly.

Amey Wagh, playing the brief role of Shri Dinanath Mangeshkar and Alok Rajwade, playing the role of Mama (maternal uncle) of Vasantrao, convince you that the future of Marathi cinema is in good hands.

I don’t remember the name of the actress who plays a veteran lavani singer, but she too manages to grab attention of the viewers in the briefest of roles.

The Direction of Nipun Dharmadhikari is top-notch. Whether it is perfect casting (note Durga Jasraj playing the role of Begum Akhtar) or the apt locales and wada’s/neighbourhoods, he captures the old world charm beautifully. Also note the frames, the play of light and dark, throughout the film and especially during the lavani scene. Mark my words, if one goes by this movie, Nipun Dharmadhikari is destined for future glory as a Director.

Don’t miss this movie if you love meaningful cinema.

Yatindra Tawde

Glossary :

Lavani– lavani sung and enacted before a larger audience in a theatrical atmosphere is phadachi lavani

Baithakichi lavani- a lavani sung a private and select audience is baithakichi lavani

Photo credits – Jio Studios, Viacom18 Studios

Book review – In the Footsteps of Rama

Book Title – In the footsteps of Rama, Travels with the Ramayana

Author – Vikrant Pande, Neelesh Kulkarni

Publisher – HarperCollins Publishers, India

No. Of pages – 255

Ramayana and Mahabharata, the two Indian Itihasa’s, are the most loved epics across continents. Ramayana is considered to be older of the two.

Elders narrate these two epics to Indian children, in the most simple language. The same has been the case with me. In addition to hearing the stories from elders, I loved reading these stories in Amar Chitra Katha, an almanac of ancient and pre-independence Indian stories. I have an obsession with these two epics and still enjoy reading different versions by different authors, with equal involvement and fervour.

With that introduction, when I heard about this book, ‘In the Footsteps of Rama, Travels with the Ramayana’, I jumped at the opportunity to read it. And by the end of it I was satisfied that I had made the right decision.

The authors, Vikrant and Neelesh,  embark on a journey which starts at Ayodhya and ends at Ayodhya, traversing the entire route followed by  Rama and Sita, accompanied by his loyal and protective brother, Laxmana.

What makes this a memorable read is the inclusion of local folklore associated with The Ramayana, at each of the places they visit, showing how well Ramayana is ingrained into the common people’s consciousness across such a large geography, in India as well as Sri Lanka. While doing this, The Ramayana comes alive as a living legacy.

I am sure that this travelogue would motivate even those readers who might be unaware about the epic, to explore The Ramayana through the written word.

This enriching journey is highly recommended.

Yatindra Tawde

Book Review – The People Tree

Book Title – The People Tree


Author – Beetashok Chatterjee

Publisher – Readomania


I have read stories by Beetashok Chatterjee in the past so I was looking forward to his new offering, ‘The People Tree’. And I am happy to say that this new anthology is as good as his debut one, ‘Driftwood – Stories washed Ashore’. While ‘Driftwood’ dealt with seamen and their experiences, both good and bad, ‘The People Tree’ deals with the common man and his ordinary and some times, extraordinary life.


The stories take you all over the world and across time spans in their quest to peep into their lives and take you along on an unforgettable journey. While doing all this, the author etches some remarkable characters.


While the 14 stories offer something to ponder over, there are a few which stand out. For me, these were, ‘Ground Zero’, ‘A day at the races’, ‘The Holy Trinity’, ‘The Vintage Car Rally’ and ‘Two Close for comfort’.


So what are you waiting for? Rest and resuscitate yourself under ‘The People Tree’.


YatindraTawde

Book review – Memories – A Novella

 

Book Title – Memories – a Novella The hilarious nightmare of growing up.

Author – Soumya Mukherjee Publisher – Notion Press

No. Of pages – 142

Oh Boy!

What an amazing journey from childhood, through many adventures of youth and culminating with the realizations of old age narrated with dollops of humour.

Once you pick up the book, it’s very difficult to put it down, for, not only is it entertaining but also takes you on a nostalgic journey to your own childhood and youth. And if the reader has stayed in a hostel, he/she will find many parallels with their own life in college.

The author, Soumya Mukherjee has the God given gift of effortless humour which he uses to weave an unforgettable story.

And why did I start the review with ‘Oh Boy!’?

Well, read this Novella to find out.

Yatindra Tawde

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Book review – Born a Crime

Book Title – Born a crime

Author – Trevor Noah
Publisher – Spiegel & Grau

No. Of pages – 282

Without any doubt, I would say that I have made the best possible start to my reading journey in 2022. In fact, ‘Born a crime’ by Trevor Noah is one of the top-most books I have ever read. (And happy that it was recommended to me by my daughter)

An undercurrent of respect and love for his feisty mother runs through the entire book and culminates in the hard-hitting final chapter. He knows and he appreciates the fact that it was his mother who actually moulded him right from his childhood to his adult life and made him what he is today. This is what takes the book to another level and sets it apart from other autobiographies.

Trevor Noah grabs the readers attention right from the beginning.

While he tells his own story, he manages to paint a stark picture of Apartheid of those times even though it was on its last legs. The machinations of the white man where he created enmity between the different linguistic tribes of Africa so that they remained subdued to foreign rule,  rings a bell near home. Also the fact that most black people were kept deliberately uneducated for the longest time and made to think that their indigenous culture was something to be ashamed of, you realize that same formula was used elsewhere as well, to promote forced colonization of huge populations across continents.

Reading this book was an exhilarating journey of understanding other cultures and the realization that though other cultures may appear strange or exotic from afar but the basic human emotions and characteristics are similar.

Yatindra Tawde

 

A step dragged

First published on ArtoonsInn

His face contorted into a grimace and he went still suddenly. One shoulder drooped while the other touched his ear. One leg stretched sideways and then he dragged his other leg towards the first without bending it. And just like a child rubs his chocked-up nose with the back his palm, he gestured similarly near his throat.

His bedridden grandmother watched all this from her cot, horror writ large on her crinkled face.

“Ohh…my poor Bunnu. Paralysis…he…he is paralysed. Help! Bunnu Ki maa…please, oh please come here fast. Bunnu is getting paralysis attack. Come fast”, she screamed at the top of her voice.

Supriya, Bunnu’s mother, who was cutting Bhindi, cut her own finger in her hurry to get up and rush into the bedroom. She put her finger into her mouth to stop the blood flow, thinking that her mother-in-law is getting a paralysis attack. But no, it cannot be, nobody would announce their own paralysis to the world at the top of their voice. It’s not biologically possible. But nothing is beyond the old witch, she thought to herself. Then she remembered mother-in-law mentioning Bunnu and she froze. What has he got into, this time. She remembered the last time he had come home howling in pain, his hand bent in the opposite direction. It had cost time and lots of money to set it right.

When she barged into the bedroom she saw her MIL sitting upright in the cot. The witch lives, she thought to herself regretfully. Then she saw her Bunnu rolling on the floor with laughter. She had one mind to throw whatever was in her hand at Bunnu, but then she remembered that she was carrying her Bhindi cutting knife and controlled herself.

“What has come over you, Maa? Why did you shout so? Do you know how petrified I was? And you Bunnu? Why are you laughing like a madman?”, Supriya rattled off her questions like a machine-gun.

“Oh Maa. It was hilarious. I was dancing the Pushpa step and Badi Maa had the look of pure horror on her face and then she shouted. Oh Badi Maa, you are so cute. I love you.” And he embraced his grandmother warmly.

The grandmother just shrugged in mock anger and turning her face away from him said, “Is this how a grandchild treats his grandmother? You act paralysed and ask me to remain calm? How can I remain calm if I think that you are having some serious medical problem?”

Then turning to him and scrunching up her nose she said, “And you call this a dance. You should have seen Bhagwan dance. So graceful, so cute…what are you looking at me like that. Bhagwan was the greatest Matinee hero. You know…”

And so Supriya left the two blessed souls exchanging their generational anecdotes to attend to her cut finger and to be cut Bhindi.

Folks, this might be the scenario in more than one household in India which is currently in the throes of a Telugu language movie and more specifically, a song in that movie.

Yatindra Tawde

 

 

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Airavata Microblog hop

This blog post is part of the Airavata -1Microbloghop hosted by Meera V Barath

https://meerasoasis.com/airavata1-microblog-hop/

 

Author Name – Yatindra Tawde

Book Name – Airavata

Story Title – Little Gobu

 

Author Introduction –

 

Yatindra Tawde tried out writing posts on social media and that’s how his writing journey commenced. Encouraged with the feedback from his friends and family (aren’t they super supportive), he started his own blog  – https://itsmylife.net.in

Starting out with sharing his thoughts on different subjects in a humorous manner, he diversified into story writing. Winning a few events, he never looked back.

He has published his own e-book titled ‘Reflections of a blogger’ and his stories have been a part of ‘Hawk’s Nest’ , ‘Route 13: Highway to Hell’ , ‘Blood runs Cold’ and ‘Airavata’ anthologies.

Twitter handle – @tyatin4326

 

My experience with Airavata

I came to know about the plan by Pachyderm Tales and Mayaakatha, for a children’s book whose main protagonist was to be an Elephant. I had never attempted to write for children before, my past forays in writing stories being mainly humour or horror. Thus was born my first attempt at a children’s story.

Since the project was going to be titled ‘Airavata’, I decided that my protagonist would be an elephant from present day India.

When one thinks of an Elephant nowadays, the first thought that comes to mind is the repeated encounter that happens between elephant and man due to continuous encroachment of human habitation into fast depleting jungles. So I decided to set my story on one such encounter. I had also seen umpteen videos on social media of baby elephants having fun. Thus my main protagonist, ‘Little Gobu’ was born. Giving free reign to my imagination, I weaved a story around Little Gobu and his protective herd of female elephants.

Buy your copy of the Airavata book here

 

#AiravataAnthology #Airavata1microbloghop #StoriesWithMayakatha #PachydermTales #UkiyotoPublishers

 

The Rampwalk

 First published on ArtoonsInn

The name is Rocky, you must have heard about me. I am a famous runner and last year’s winner of the annual races which take place near Pune. In fact I have won these races three years in a row.

When I enter the arena the crowd goes berserk with whistles and claps. I make their adrenaline flow. I am just itching to be at the races this year too, wearing my favourite silk clothes, lovingly woven for me by my mother.

But hey! What is this I hear? The races this year are being canceled just because of some wave! Guys, this is Pune, no wave can reach so far inland. But then the authorities who give the permissions are serious. They don’t want any deaths due to waves, they say. The race organizers are exasperated.  But their hands are tied and they are forced to announce the cancelation.

I sulk…but I sulk well. Seeing me sulking in a corner, hardly chewing the cud, my brother Pandurang Patil has a brilliant idea. He knows that I thrive on spectator feedback and his ticking brain comes up with an unique idea. He discusses with the organizers and a day is decided. And my practice starts in preparation for the D-day.

Finally the day dawns. I am bathed from head to toe. The oil massage is a luxury. I enjoy being pampered thus.

Like every year my mother dresses me in the best silks. I enter the arena. As I enter, I look at the camera mounted near the entry and nod my head in acknowledgement, just like brother Pandurang has taught me. In fact it is he, dressed in his best clothes, who is leading me to the arena. I hear whistles and claps though no one can be seen.

A long, clean walkway stretches before me. The walkway is bedecked with flower petals. As all cameras point towards the walkway, Pandurang leads me along the red carpet. I walk majestically behind him, my head held high. As we reach the end of the walkway,  Pandurang turns around. As I follow him, I see other fellow runners,  walking behind me.

Yes, you guessed it right. We are the models on a rampwalk, not seen before in these parts of India. But as they say, there’s always the first time and soon I am declared the winner of the rampwalk competition.

Pandurang is ecstatic with my win, especially since it has fetched him a handsome reward of Rs. 50,000/-

 

Friends, that’s how the annual cattle races were successfully converted to online rampwalk where the bulls walked and everyone enjoyed the gathering online, without crowding at the races, like every year. The  bull owners too were satisfied, especially given the fact that they take these annual races seriously, where preparations start atleast three months in advance.

And what about the bulls, you ask? Well, they moo’ed their way to online glory, without breaking into a sweat.

Yatindra Tawde

Picture credit- Anand Thakur and unsplash.com

When the snake bit

First published on The Hive Publishers

A snake committed sacrilege by biting the Demi-God of millions of Bollywood fans and it became trending news for days together. But the Demi-God overcame this setback, very much like the innumerable larger than life characters he plays with aplomb,  on the silver screen.

It so happened that the Demi-God was visiting his farmhouse, which happens to be his second home, and stumbled upon the snake enjoying the cozy abode in the Hero’s absence. Being the hero that he is, he decided to take matters into his own, capable hands instead of calling ‘Friends of reptiles’ who specialize in catching such vagabond reptiles and releasing them into fast depleting jungles. The Hero, being inexperienced in such matters, fumbled with the slithering snake, which bit him not once but thrice. And hopefully it managed to survive this love bite. There is a huge debate going on, whether it was poisonous or not. As per the Hero himself, it was of poisonous orientation.

Meanwhile, some four-legged creatures were found celebrating this unfortunate incident in their parched jungle but the celebrations were short-lived as the jungle authorities cracked down on them by releasing the video of the Hero’s triumphant release from the hospital, waving and throwing air kisses to his umpteen fans.

Last heard, the four-legged creatures have gone into hiding, staying far away from the windshield vision of the Hero.

Yatindra Tawde

Photo credit – David Code, unsplash.com

A Robber in lake city

First published on The Hive Publishers

When you see pigeons near your balcony or window, indulging in indecent behaviour or generally being noisy, your first reaction is to shoo them away. They are also known for creating abstract designs on the ledges and windows and you don’t want to waste your work-from-home valuable time in erasing their deeds. In addition to being gross, in these times of reduced immunity, you don’t want another reason for the spread of diseases.

In the good old days the pigeons were not seen as pests. They were said to be messengers of love. Why, Bhagyashree from ‘Maine Pyar kiya’, sent her first love note to her Saajan, Salman, using this very kabootar (vernacular for pigeon). In it, the pigeon hogged the camera in an entire song. Coming to think of it, Bhagyashree didn’t want it to stay with herself much longer,  but entreated it to ‘Ja, ja, ja…’ .

Pigeons were also used as spies or undercover agents in the wars of olden times and some of them enjoyed Knighthood too.

Recently I came to know that in the former city of lakes (I say former because nowadays the lakes froth with pollutants which don’t look pretty), the pigeon indulged in crime. Or were made to indulge in crimes perpetrated by one extra-imaginative criminal.

He bought some innocent looking pigeons to his targeted neighborhood. During day time, he released them. As is their second nature, they flew and settled on the balconies in the neighborhood. Our extra-imaginative friend would then pay a visit to such flats and ask for his escaped pet. The flat owners would let him in to collect his pet and this was their undoing. While being in the house he would scan for expensive appliances and soon the flat owners were poorer by a few lacs.

Last heard, the said criminal is behind bars and the pigeons (but nobody’s pets) have been added to a burgeoning population of their own species in the former city of lakes.

Yatindra Tawde