Monday, September 30, 2013

Film Review: The Lunch Box

Irfan Khan in The Lunch Box
Debutant film maker, Ritesh Batra, has made a fantastic start, with his first. Pegging the film on two elements – the Bombay Dabbawalas, who have become an international case study at management schools, and the evergreen recipe called love, he has made a profoundly meaningful, touching film, with only one very well-known actor, that being Irfan Khan, as cast and other lesser known names like, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui. A story so beautifully woven, with so much sensitivity, really did not need a super engaging cast, to carry the film to a box office hit.
Saajan (Irfan Khan), is about to retire in a month after 35 years of work life. He is a lonely widower, with nothing else except his job as crutch.
Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a housewife with a daughter and a husband she suspects is having an affair outside their marriage.
Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is the young man all set to take over the job from Irfan, after he retires in a month or two. He is eager to learn from Irfan, but the latter is a reluctant teacher for his insecurity of a life of retirement, is only too close and looking him in the face.
At that moment, by a turn of fate, there is an interchange of dabbas (Lunchbox) and the one he receives is not the one, meant for him. But the food is home cooked, and ever since the death of his wife, Irfan has been eating from the canteen, which only provided, potatoes on a daily basis. Irfan takes the liberty to send a chit in the box complaining, complimenting, telling stories, inside the box. Ila, who receives these letters, is a bit baffled at the beginning, but begins to enjoy and anticipate the letters. Her drab life, with a cheating husband, which she tells Irfan about, finds a patient listener. The letters fill the emptiness of each of their lives. They plan to meet.
However, at the appointed time, at the restaurant decided before, Ila, is waiting anxiously, while Irfan, a much older man, comes to the restaurant but does not meet her. He sits and watches her, hesitating to move forward. Naturally Ila is unhappy at this let down, but receives a letter of explanation from Irfan the next day, in the dabba, of course. Along with her daughter, she visits his Office, only to find, he has retired and left. She herself decides to leave for Bhutan, leaving her husband behind.
What is the actual message of the film? At no point do the two protagonists, Ila and Irfan, ever meet and yet, the audience is left with this feeling that they will meet, sometime. Perhaps in Bhutan where they plan to go together, but each has gone his own way!
The whole movie is a brilliant depiction of our need as humans to communicate. The key message is -  given any situation where two people are alone and have no one to talk to, they will create a bridge of communication, between them, even if they do not know, or have not seen or met each other. For Irfan, Ila filled the vacancy of this life, just by reading/listening to what he was writing; for Ila, Irfan was that person, she did not know, but could share her deepest fears or insecurities. Yet, when challenged to meet, personally came, Irfan prefers to maintain status quo. Indeed, he is aware that this bubble would burst if they were to meet personally, face to face.
At another level, even the aunty, living above Ila, whose voice the audience hears but whose face it never sees, is another example of communication between two humans living close to each other.  There is exchange thoughts and queries, and there is a basket hanging on ropes which again becomes a loop to hang another form of communication, where, tid-bits shared between two kitchen, one on top and the other below, becomes a tool that gives a loud and clear message – There is a voice that binds the two and there is a connection too, between the two. Again, they are communicating, whatever be the objects shared between the two.
Brilliant as it were, the film talks about a very basic need – the need to be heard and the need to communicate in any form, because, as someone said, no man is an island. We are all part of the milieu, we call life. We are complete, only when there is the other, in whatever form it may choose to be there for us.
The film is clean of all other quick fix modern day communications that shake the hall with belly dancers, romantic run-around trees or making out at sea bed. Also, there are no Smartphones, Facebook, Twitter or gmail even.
Such a break from the mundane! Such a beautiful film!

Read also why The Lunchbox should have been the film for the Oscar nomination.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fairly, un-fair!

The Cat called consumer
Let me be fair; you can’t move ahead on this post, unless you have visited another. It would be un-fair to do so. But frankly speaking, I am fairly convinced that when you are reading my post, you must under no circumstance; visit any other post, from anyone else, from anywhere in cyberspace.

You call that un-fair? Or do you think I am a control freak?

I am neither, but this conversation with you, will remain incomplete if I do not talk about what is fair and what un-fair.

Advertisers you say, make you believe and buy what they want you to buy. Advertisers will say, they know your mind and are constantly studying it, which is why, even before your conscious mind is aware of it, bingo! What you desire is what you want. Desperately! And what you want is already presented in the form of a product!

Advertisers, not only read your mind, they make you pay to have your wants fulfilled! Now if that is not, fair and fugly, then what is?

Excuse me, not fair and ugly, fair and fugly, the former shows on your skin, so does the latter.  And that is what I call fairly, un-fair!

Advertisers will say, “It’s not our fault, can’t consumers decide what they really want?”

So go ahead, have a good laugh at what your own mind wants, every few days, reverse –forward.

Darn! These seedy guys!

Confession: This post is inspired by another one which you can read here:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Was it an easy delivery?

Available at
Years ago, one of my friends from the US, wrote an ecstatic letter. She had just become a mother. She sent me a card with the picture of the baby boy on top, and a note inside. It said, she had given birth to a lovely little bundle of joy and she had, had a really, easy, painless delivery. A delightful feeling filled me as I saw her son and her personal note.

I remember that feeling today, as I introduce you to the fast, quick, and somewhat easy delivery I had had myself, with regard to my new born, second child – Laughing Stock Productions.

The manuscript had got misplaced the first time I sent it to my publishers. In the meantime, I worked hard, with the help of an Editor here in India, to make a better, finished product. It took a lot of time that one, but by the time I had it with me, I re-sent the manuscript only to know I was somewhat in queue now. I waited for the final copy to arrive from my publishers after their editing the manuscript.

What editing that was! If not for my eye for details, I would not have made out the changes made in the manuscript. A good Editor they say is one, who does the work so well that even the author is not able to make out the changes! There were however, many missing inverted commas, at the beginning of the sentence. This they said would be all put in place before the book was available on
I had read the manuscript not less than 30 times over time and what I was beginning to suffer from is what Ph.D students suffer – they can’t look at their thesis anymore at the end! Friends advised I leave for a destination, taking a break from the manuscript, have a holiday.

I did! I went to Amritsar to see The Golden Temple, for the first time in my life. There, I forgot all about the book totally. Returning after two days, I turned on my computer and the next thing I knew was the book had gone to Story Cartel for its round of aggressive marketing and review seeking spree. And Gosh! Did they do a great job! Laughing Stock Productions was on!

It is the easiest delivery I have had. Before I knew it, the baby was out and falling on every eager lap! I was ecstatic! Like an able and skillful surgeon, while the mother takes a breather, from complaining, the Editor had done his job, expertly. Now, that Laughing Stock Productions was already born, there was only the sound of laughter to hear, in the here and now J

What a smooth, easy, quick and painless delivery that was!

To read:

Check out for FREE download:

#ticktock10 4 days left! @juliadutta's Laughing Stock Productions Read, Review & Win $$$ @storycartel

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Film appreciation: And you thought you knew me.

Pramada Menon. Picture from internet
Pramada Menon’s debut film, “And You Thought You Knew Me” introduces the viewer to five women who identify themselves as lesbians, creating an intimate portrait of ‘the other’ . The film was first viewed by an audience at the ongoing Open Frame International Film Festival in New Delhi, 2013, focuses on narratives of and by women.

The film is tastefully made, in the beautiful Delhi landscape, portraying monuments, juxtaposed with the voices of women speaking about themselves and their experiences, being lesbian, in Delhi.

As capital of India both politically and for reasons of being one of the worst states, kissing partners with Haryana and UP, famous for daily rapes, honour killings, lack of respect for women, using and feeling that women are commodities to be used for sexual gratification and child bearing, all five women, who spoke in the documentary film, chose to come to stay in Delhi, for whatever reasons. In that light, it becomes increasingly, important, that they, and perhaps a lot more women, who identify to be “the other”, are able to negotiate their space to be here and live their lives, in the way they want to.

But wait a moment! Where are the women of the past, women, who stoically stood their ground to establish to themselves, that they too were ‘the other’?

The LGBTQ movement in Delhi or for that matter, India, did not start only 5 – 7 years ago. While it existed in whatever form, prior to 1980, when the first International Women’s Meet happened in Bombay, the exposure to women who identified as lesbian and were sharing their lives with many gathered during that meet, gave an enormous push to our own movement in India. In 1996, aided by Stree Sangam, a ‘women who love women’ group in Bombay, the first national three day, meet happened in Bombay which brought women from different parts of India together. It became apparent that there existed small groups of women activists, across India, who were trying to put voice to women desire to be who they were, identified, women who love women.

Shortly after that, an idea that had been mulling in the minds of women in Delhi, to bring out an anthology of lesbian writings, was published. The book, “Facing the mirror”, edited by Ashwini Sukhthankar, was published by Penguin, in India, and became an instant sell out.

The movement had found a voice!

Since then, there have been so many other forms of Voice, including the Pride March. So in that light, this film, by Pramada Menon, is an important contribution to the LGBTQ Movement in India.

Yet, I must end on a note of disappointment; in the film, the voices from the past are absent. Not a single woman in the film is over 50 years of age, and that means, that from 1980 to 2013, visibility of women who loved women, is still pretty poor. Perhaps, the very reason why, the film-maker chose a landscape of Delhi's Monuments, red walls, silent as tombs. The silence of the past, the women, whose blood ran with the urgency to be recognised, is deafening!

Indeed, one among the five women said so herself – Looking for a woman who loves women, is still as hard. Therefore, what is it that is keeping us away from coming out. Is it, our own fears, or is it that we fear the society we live in? Or is it just that we are still negotiation, who we really are?

Only time will tell. Especially now that we know, that gender identities are as fluid as water, running under your feet. The real challenge is to find our own voice, loud and clear, at least for the time being.
Kal, kaun dekha  - who has seen tomorrow, and what it will hold for me? Who I will be;  what will be my identity, my voice, who knows?

Pramada Menon is a founder member of Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA) in 2000. CREA ( ) is currently based in New Delhi and aims to enhance the “capacities of a new generation of women leaders using a human rights approach. The organization works on issues of sexuality, reproductive health, violence against women, gender equity, economic justice and women's rights.”
Pramada began her career working with DASTKAR, a society for the promotion of crafts and craftspeople in New Delhi. Starting as a field assistant in 1987, she became the Executive Director of the organization in 1993. In the lead up to the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference, she was actively involved with women’s groups on the issues of sustainable livelihoods. She left DASTKAR in 1998 and spent two years as an independent consultant working on issues of women’s rights--sexuality, literacy, empowerment and livelihoods.
Throughout her career, Pramada has spent much of her time conducting trainings with both men and women on issues related to gender, leadership and empowerment. She is a strong believer in the idea that young people need the opportunity and space to challenge themselves and to be challenged.(Courtsey: ) “And you thought you knew me”, is her debut film.

NB:Views expressed here are Julia Dutta's alone

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Last 5 days to go! Download Free!

We at XYNOBOOKS thank you again for your participation in the pre-launch of Julia Dutta's latest romantic comedy Laughing Stock Productions. As this period comes to a close, we look forward to your honest and thoughtful reviews which can be left at the link above.

As always, should you find any issues, such as typos, with any of our books, contact us at this email address, and we will happily go to work fixing them. Our goal is to provide you with an enjoyable reading experience.

Have this 's Laughing Stock Productions Read, Review & Win $$$

First review of Laughing Stock Productions on

Sunday, September 15, 2013

“You are as good as your last campaign!”

Download Free:
The first time I knew I could write was when I was a little girl, home for the Pooja holidays, with a assignment, to write a poem. The poem was chosen as best in my class. The second time was when I was in college and was asked by our English Literature professor, to write a short story. Mine, she said was the best, a story, which is now a part of a larger story, in my first published eBook, Until death do us part, which is available on

My mother was a writer in Bengali, in the early, 1950, but lost her ability to compose stories and poems after her traumatic experience with her husband, who happened to be my father. I too, nearly, almost lost my ability to write, somewhere in the late 1980s, but was saved by the skin of my teeth, when existence placed in my hand, a book by Osho, called “The No Book”. All the pages in that book were blank pages! I filled the pages with my life.

And then, the writing started all over again. The No Book, became the biggest Voice, in my life – my instant therapy. Pages upon pages were filled with my life, my paintings, line drawings. Once the story was full and complete, I lost the book, as if to say, I had ‘shed my skin’, and moved on.

Yes, I had, in many ways. I wrote short stories with a flair of a person, who needed to tell a story, which was possible to read, quickly. Being an advertising professional, I preferred books that were racy and absorbing, but did not take up too much time. In this profession, in any case, we read lots, lots, lots! We are outdated, in a week if our knowledge bank is not updated all the time.

When my friends who have published with well known publishers in India and abroad, egged me to publish, I picked up the collection, Until death do us part, which had been sitting in my computer, for six long years, to start with. Last year around October, the book was published in eBook format by my publisher Xynobooks LLC in the United States.

So when it came to the next one – Laughing Stock Productions, I was faced with many questions. Should I publish with the same publishers, or should I publish with known publishers in India, if they approved my manuscript? I talked to many people. And everyone said  I must go with the Printed Books. Nobody reads eBooks!

I chose to publish in eBook format, once again. Loads of emails from my Editor, in Xynobooks confirmed what I believed right – as you grow in numbers, so will the readership grow. My author sense was not as strong as my business sense. My gut sense and my Editor’s persuasive emails, made me decide to go with the same publishing house.

An unknown writer, from somewhere in India, can become an instant success, if s/he has a real good story to tell, but I, for whom, writing is a passion, outside my work and my need to see women in the forefront, must tell a story(s) as many as there are to build mass. I believe that, a book (any book for that matter) has its own destiny. I, who am, the vehicle of its birth must be like a bird, once, having given birth, must help the book to fly and then, let it go. And I must move on to the next creation, for like a true advertising person will say, “You are as good as your last campaign!”

And so it has been with the first and so it will be with the second. Let my babies find their own home in your heart, whichever heart, has the space and willingness to give it a home.

In the meantime, excuse me please! While you are downloading Free, Laughing Stock Productions, I must carry on with the third story I am writing.

's Laughing Stock Productions read it, review it, win $$$

First review of Laughing Stock Productions on

Monday, September 02, 2013

Last few days only! Download FREE! Laughing Stock Productions

Weekends are for love! @juliadutta's Laughing Stock Productions read it, review it, win $$$ @storycartel… #FREE

Share! Read together! laugh together! 

's Laughing Stock Productions read it, review it, win $$$

(1) My publisher says: "My publisher says, " Get a taste of #India in @juliadutta's Laughing Stock Productions read it, review it, win $$$ @storycartel … … Huh!!!

(2) Just received on email: I downloaded and read the first story on the computer. Will leave the next till later... bedtime treat maybe. So well done... good stories with references to places and people I recognize!
Lots of love Jillix from Cornwall, England.

(3) Just received from publisher a delightful note:

We at XYNOBOOKS want to let you know that we appreciate your participation in the pre-launch of Julia Dutta's wonderful new novel Laughing Stock Productions.

Recently, one of our eagle-eyed readers spotted some typographical mistakes in the drafts available on StoryCartel. We quickly put Inspector Sawant on the case, and we've uploaded an updated version of the book. Please, take the opportunity to download a fresh copy, and accept our apologies. We hope this hasn't detracted from your enjoyment of Julia's novel.

As always, should you have any issues with any of our books, contact us at this email address, ( ) , and Inspector Sawant will go to work.
Show less

Read 's Laughing Stock Productions for free on & then review it on Amazon:

For those who do not possess a Kindle, Download Free Kindle apps from on your computer and then proceed to download Free Laughing Stock Productions.

Here is the link to Free Kindle download to your computer.

Book review: Solitude and other poems by Rajender Krishan

There is a whir of emotions sitting at the threshold of the poet’s mind, longing to unite with that which is beyond time and space; much beyond the temporal. Like poets of yesteryears appealing to the Divine, the language used was that which could be understood by mere mortal, and yet on reading the lines, the same unrest to unite with the celestial caught fire in the readers mind. Until, I took Solitude and other poems, by Rajender Krishan in my hand, and read without once stopping to take my eyes off the pages, I had forgotten the feeling, the stir of emotions in my mind too, which has for long been sitting at the same threshold, the gate, as it were, that transports the mortal to become the divine.

He is the poet and the muse, the dreamer and the inspiration, the watcher and the watched. “The ethereal/ apparently caged/ behind the skin/ remains forever free - / The indestructible Atman” – Core of the onion pg. 2

In fact, it is this quality, where the reader joins the poet in his quest of the divine and whirls his dervish as he longs to unite, where the watcher and the watched become one, which proves to be the pivotal point on which this book stands.

No, it is not a book crying out like a crazed mortal gone wild; indeed, the lines, what we every day experience, in our lives and our loves, the many masks we wear, like onion skin, which help us stand outside ourselves and question – “What I am? …A naked Self/ clothed by masks/ of thoughts, relationships/ projections, emotions/ attachments, detachments/ aversions, diversions/ the dual of opposite!/ What really I am?” pg.27

“I have a Twin/ -Wanderer-/ reveling in absolute freedom/ moment by moment/ painless of the dead yesterday/ carefree of the unborn tomorrow/ unaffected by laws/ merrily being/ with a singular belief/ Transient Must Pass.” Pg 40

As previewer, Dr. Amitabh Mitra, Poet, Artist and Trauma Surgeon said, “Rajender Krishan’s poetic words form images conforming to identities that unequivocally relate to India. Mystic as Dervish of Nizammudin, he writes on mythic patterns, congruent to contemporary thoughts.”

This said, the reader must not presume that the poet is not concerned with the temporal. Indeed he is. From environment, to issues facing the modern man, the workforce, politics, or the death in the kindergarten, inspired by the killings in the US kindergarten, to the hopelessness of the lingering case in court of Nirbhaya, overpopulation, he leaves no stone unturned.

Rajender Krishan, was born in India and studied in Punjab University and spent many years working in India until in 1989, he moved to the US. In 1999, perhaps one of the first of Indians in the US, he started his very famous website,, which for the last fourteen years has remained an open platform, showcasing the works of eminent novelists, journalists, playwrights, artists, photographers and a large community of poets. The vibrant website is a storehouse of information and research because of the authors it supports, from world over.

The poet’s style is free flowing. He is not caught in the mesh of rhyme and rhythm, a full sentence might be only one word, but I can assure you of one thing, the work appeals to all – you don’t have to be a critique of poetry, nor one who wears the mask of being a poet yourself; the real joy lies in the fact that the simple poems can be read by all and yet, the lines will evoke the same emotions, longing, craving and desire, as it does for the poet himself. In that sense the poet and the reader become a mirror unto each other.

Let me explain and leave you, kind reader, with one that touched me most.

“I have known her for forty four years
she’s known my wife for thirty eight years;
we last met fifteen years ago…..

I picked up the phone and called her
the other day….

“Hello….at last you called!”

Haan is all I could say

Our six words discourse
lingered for fifteen long minutes
in tranquil silence

what I actually aspired to say?
if she expected anything else to hear?      Pg 86

With a forward by PCK Prem, beautiful illustrations from Simi Nallaseth, and editing done by Boloji poetry Editor − Aparna Chatterjee, the 135 pages of Solitude and other poems, is dedicated to his wife, Meera Chowdhry, Simi Nallaseth, Aparna Chatterjee, PCK Prem and to Life itself, the eternal teacher.

A book, well worth a read ….and read again! Come, my Beloved come!

Author: Rajender Krishan
Pages: 135
Price: Rs 225/ $ 17