Tag Archives: Bollywood

Rhythm & Blues Chap 4: Break Free

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Chap 4: Break Free


Dadar station(Major Railway/Train Station in Mumbai, India)

“CHAIYAA! CHAIYA GARAM GARAM CHAIYA!!! Madam Chai?” (Tea! Tea! Hot hot Tea..! Madam Tea?)

Khanak woke up with a start and looked bleary eyed at the thin almost emaciated child with very bright eyes, who was extending a glass full of the milky brown brew. It took her a little while to realize where she was.

Then it all came back to her. What had transpired more than 24 hrs ago; the shock, the tears of anger and disappointment at being considered a liability by her uncle. Why hadn’t her parents  taken her along on their fatal journey? Then she wouldn’t been alive to face this day.

“Nahin chahiye.” (I don’t want it.) She shook her head in the negative.

“Madam..coolie (porter) ?”

“No thanks, mein theekh hoon!” (No thanks, I am fine!)

“Aho bai, tumcha samaan jast bhari aahe! Tumchaashi uchaalal janar nahi” (No madam, your bag is really heavy! You won’t be able to lift it!)

“Kya? Hindi mein bolo!” (What? Say in Hindi!)

“Madam aapka saaman bahut bhaari aahe! (Madam your luggage is very heavy!) Lifting very difficult!” The heavy set rotund and cheerful porter replied in an admixture of Hindi and English.

Everybody seems to be living a wonderful life except me.

“Meine jab nahin kaha toh nahin samjhe!?”(When I say no, I mean no, understand?) She replied sternly.

“Nahi bai saheb, mein uchalun ghein, tumchi je iccha asel te deun dya!” (No madam I will take it, you pay me whatever you wish!) Persisted the coolie now in Marathi tugging at the handle of her black suitcase trying to wrench it from her grasp.

“No you say whatever, but I won’t relent!” She shouted back clutching tightly at the article in contention in which she had hastily packed a few last minute essentials after making the decision to leave the dwelling which she’d called her home for 20+ years. That and she also held on to her shoulder bag as if her life depended on it because it contained all the money she called her own and the big wad of notes which her aunt had thrust into her hand upon chancing on her intentions.

“Okay Bubbly, even if I wish to I can’t ask you to stay because I know I won’t be able to change your uncle’s decision.”

Khanak nodded in agreement. She was yet to come across anyone as hard headed.

“But I will miss you a lot and so will Shreya!”

“Yes, I know. But I see no other option. I don’t want to get married before I make a name for myself, become somebody. At least I want to give it a fair try.” Khanak held her aunt’s hand in earnest. She loved her both as a mother and a friend.

“How will you go about it my child? Where will you go? You haven’t been much on your own at all. Sometimes I think we’ve both cloistered you too much.” Worry furrowed Komal’s brow.

“You meant well, no parent…” Khanak caught herself, “you did what you thought was best. Don’t bother. I’m a city girl and I can take care of myself.” She’d left her with those strong words.

So much for my confidence! Khanak thought as she got down from the train, her mind still a sea of conflicting thoughts and emotions. Have I been too impulsive? She glanced around nervously at the milieu of confused humanity around her; everybody seemed to be heading somewhere or the other, with not a second to spare.

Maybe I should’ve tried to reason with chachu? She wondered briefly before promptly dispelling the thought. No! Who am I trying to fool?  I’d have just bought myself permanent shackles! Khanak shivered at the terrifying image.

She picked her way towards the exit and dialed the number of a friend she knew who resided in Mumbai, working and living independently away from her family. Khanak had always admired her but never quite understood why she insisted on staying alone; but now she did.

She heard an automated voice message; “This is Vandana. Unfortunately I won’t be available for the next several days. I’m getting married!”

Khanak’s heart sank. Getting married? As far as she could remember, her friend had been determined to remain a spinster for the rest of her life but as things had changed for her, maybe they had for her Vandana too.

She sat down on her suitcase, feeling more despondent than ever. She didn’t want to give up after having come this far. Her hand groped for and found the card deep inside her purse. It was the only avenue left.

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Rhythm & Blues Chap 3: Dreams and Schemes

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Chap 3: Dreams and Schemes


Introducing Trish: Shan’s neighbor and ‘unofficial girlfriend’ who had escaped the clutches of her way too rich and overbearing parents and chosen to live in ‘hiding’ in Mumbai. She was supported by her brother Tarun who had resorted to the same earlier and now had established himself as a pretty successful model and dancer working in Shantanu’s company. But she had been too lazy to look for a job and this was a frequent bone of contention between her and her brother and a source of amusement for Shan who tolerated her only because she made him laugh.


Mumbai city: Home of Bollywood and the financial center of India

“Hey boyfriend! What’s biting you? Why didn’t you call me when you came in last night?”A pretty girl strolled without bothering to knock, into the swank top floor penthouse apartment of Shantanu Khadelwal, owner and artistic director of Jhankaar; a leading music and dance company based in Mumbai. She had borrowed the keys a long time ago; never remembering to return it. Why would she, after all she considered herself Shan’s unofficial girl friend.

Shan didn’t answer; he didn’t to a lot of her questions. Either he pretended not to hear or simply shrugged his powerful shoulders and flashed his 1000 watt smile.


She looked on in awe while he did his routine 100 pushups with his large Akita ‘Horse’ on his back who weighed close to 75 lbs. He’d been with him since a puppy, (a gift from one of his Oriental admirers) and ever since he’d used him as weights. It was another thing altogether that Horse had decided that he liked the position and had stuck to it ever since.

“I hope he doesn’t get any weightier or he’s sure to break your back one day,” Abhay had warned him several times and Shan had dismissed it in his usual fashion; he loved Horse.

But there was no love lost between the Akita and Trish and he let her know so with a low growl. He didn’t like anybody acting possessive with his master whom he guarded jealously.

“Why don’t you get rid of him Shan? What will happen when I start living with you?” Trish had ventured hesitantly one day, though she knew the answer already.

“That won’t ever happen as long as I have Horse with me. I don’t intend to give him up for anybody!” Shan’s short and blunt retort had ended any further discussion on the topic.

He wiped himself down with a towel and looked at Trish absently, “When did you get here?”

“I’ve been here for the past 10 minutes talking my head off but you never listen; do you?”

Shan smiled taking off his ear phones, “now what were you saying?”

Trish rolled her eyes–Shan and his music, constant companions.“Why didn’t you call me when you landed last night, I could have come over. I missed you like anything.”

Shan disengaged himself from her embrace, went over to the kitchen and poured himself a tall glass of Orange Juice. “Is there some sort of rule that I should call you?”

“Am I not your girl friend?”

“You’re just a friend, nothing more.”

“What about all those kisses and I love yous?”

“Just friendly ones; have I ever implied anything else?”

“No…,” she had to reluctantly agree knowing well she wouldn’t be able to win the argument. They’d had it already several times in the past.

Choosing to change the topic, she settled herself on one of the bean bags which lay scattered on the floor while her host made his eggs and smoothie breakfast.

“Want some? It’s a new recipe.” He asked knowing well she’d been aiming toward a size zero and had chosen to go on a salad and soup diet so to bag a top modeling assignment or audition for a movie. He didn’t approve of it at all.

“Naah! Too much cholesterol and calories!” She waved a royal hand in dismissal. “By the way did you hear about Tashu’s accident? Have you found a replacement yet? Why don’t you give me a shot?”

Shan laughed watching her try to do a pirouette. “You should try out for the circus, they will snatch you up in a heartbeat. You have two left feet. The girl who is going to dance for me has to be exceptional because Jhankaar is exceptional. Tashu did fit the role perfectly.”

“Blah, blah, blah! Tashu, Tashu all the time! Isn’t there anyone else besides her who can dance in this world?!” Trish exclaimed rolling her eyes.

“There is somebody who could take her place; if only she knew what she wants.” Shan murmured softly thinking of Khanak.

“What did you say?” Trish asked absently turning up the volume of her favorite TV show.

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Rhythm & Blues Chap 2: Tumult

R and B

Chap 1

Chap 2: Tumult


Khanak flipped the card over, feeling the texture with her sensitive fingers. Hmm expensive card stock; Mr. SK isn’t exactly foraging for a living. She perused the lettering;

Shantanu Khandelwal

Owner and Artistic Director

Jhankaar music and Dance Company

 It was followed by a contact number; simple and to the point.

Very unusual for an entertainment company; it either spelt arrogance and self confidence or simply fame.

Then out of impulse she brought the card up to her nostrils and sniffed—a distinctive, unmistakably male scent that immediately conjured up an image of a pair of gorgeously seductive brown eyes. She recoiled as if stung and let the card drift to the floor.

What am I thinking? A hand drifted up to a rapidly fluttering heart. Control yourself, Khanak… such thoughts are forbidden. Girls such as you don’t think that way, at least not before marriage and not for somebody other than your husband!

She glanced at the card as it lay innocently on the floor. Let it lie, she had no use for it. This was her home; where she belonged. Turning the lights out, she settled down to sleep.


Meanwhile at the Chennai airport:

“Shan! It’s of no use dude! She won’t come! Girls like her are very traditional. Her parents would never agree.”

“But I thought I saw something in her eyes, a hunger to break out of the mold, to become famous! She has it in her Abhay!” He waited till the very last moment before dejectedly joining the line.

A Bright and early morning at the Mishra household in Chennai:

Like everyday it was greeted with the fragrance of agarbattis and the rhythm of bells; dancing bells which Khanak wore on her feet as she practiced her dance routine. She had done so without interruption ever since the tender age of five when she had begun learning Bharathnatyam.

Her aunt Komal, Shreya’s mother, frequently advised her to take it easy, “After so many years, dance must have become ingrained into every atom of your being; then why the need for such rigorous practice?”

“No matter chachi (aunt), the first and foremost principle of mastering any form of art is practice, practice and good practice, without which the artist will become a langur (monkey) as my Guruji says and I certainly don’t want that, do you?” Khanak laughed.

Komal shook her head, laughing along. Despite being a very mature and talented artist Khanak at times younger than Shreya who was two years her junior, “No baba, then your sasural wale (in-laws) will accuse me of sending a chimpanzee instead of the orangutan you already are!”

“Oh no chachi! I’m not going anywhere! I want to stay here with you as your monkey forever.”

“Yes my dear, you will stay with me always.” Her aunt nodded though without conviction.

Khanak was Komal and Sharat Mishras niece. Ever since her parents had been killed in a train accident when she was barely two years old, Sharat (her father’s younger brother) and his wife had taken her in and she loved them as her own parents. They had never differentiated between her and Shreya or their older son Shyam who adored her and was very protective. He was an officer in the Indian Army and had just been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. They were all very proud of him.

But this morning found Khanak distracted and unable to concentrate. She was feeling unusually irritable and listless.

“Bubbly di!”

She turned around briskly to see Shreya standing at the door grinning mischievously.

Khanak snapped, “What’s up? Don’t you see I’m busy?”

“What’s the matter di? You look all red and flustered as though you’ve been caught doing something you shouldn’t.” Shreya sauntered in hiding something behind her back.

Khanak ignored her cousin and began practicing her mudras–she had beautifully expressive hands. Shreya watched fascinated.

“Nothing, I’m just not myself today. I didn’t sleep well last night.”

“Aha! So that’s the secret behind the card. Your prince charming! Mr. Shantanu Khandelwal! Shall I tell brother and Anand?”

Khanak broke her pose and snatched at the card that Shreya was brandishing over her head. It wouldn’t do for her to spread the word. The whole household would turn upside down. The only reason why she’d been able to continue learning classical dance was because of Komal aunty’s and Shyam’s continued support and only because she had caught the eye of her Guruji as someone who possessed the potential of becoming a major exponent of the art.

Her uncle had never been for it. He was a staunch proponent of the old school which maintained that girls from good families do not perform on stage. “After schooling daughters take care of the home and hearth. It is our culture,” he often reiterated.

“Stop it Shree! He was someone who saw me as Shakuntala and wanted to know if I would be willing to join his dance company and I refused. That’s all! And don’t you dare tell anybody!”

“Aww… but di! What an incredible opportunity! Big city stage, international exposure, name, fame, I can already see your name blazing in neon: Khanak the diva of dance!” Shreya exclaimed, clasping her hands together and gazed dreamily into the distance unaware that she was giving voice to Khanak’s dreams.

“Not all dreams come true. So stop before chachu (uncle) comes to know about it!”

“Now what are we hiding from chachu? Are we making plans to go to a late night movie?” Komal walked in smiling brightly, bearing a string of fresh mallipoo (Jasmine flowers,) which she attached lovingly to Khanak’s luxurious mane; a daily ritual.

“Now my Khanak looks like an angel; Anand is very lucky indeed.” She stepped back to admire her niece whose thick black tresses contrasted most wonderfully with her smooth, glowing complexion and her classically perfect features which she had inherited from her mother.

 Anand Vaidyanathan and his family had been their neighbors for as long as Khanak could remember.  Her senior by a few years; he worked as an engineer for a major software company and  was doing very well. Khanak had always considered him a close friend and confidant.

“Why is Anand lucky? Are you hiding something from me chachi?” Khanak asked, suddenly anxious.

“Bubbly di, Anand and his parents…” Shreya began.

“Shh! Let me tell her.” Komal said turning to Khanak. She grasped her hands, “Anand and his parents are coming over to see you today!”

“But why?”

“Well, for some time we have known that you like each other and Anand is a gem of a boy. He worships the ground you walk on.”

“What are you implying?”

“I’m just saying that Anand is leaving for the States soon. His parents want him to settle down before he leaves. So when they asked him, he made it quite clear that he wished to marry you and no one else.  Your uncle obviously couldn’t refuse such a wonderful proposal!”

Khanak witnessed her whole world come crashing down around her. “But what about my opinion; did anyone care to ask me what I want? Yes, I do like Anand but only as a friend. I don’t love him; for me that is key for a happy marriage. Anyway I’m not interested in all that right now. I want to make a name for myself and I’ve barely begun my journey! Please, say that it’s a joke; a very cruel one but a joke nevertheless!” Khanak pleaded with desperation in her eyes.

“My child, I wish it was but it isn’t. You know your chachu quite well; once he makes up his mind no one can change it. I tried very hard but he is not willing to listen.”

 “But I cannot marry Anand! I cannot!” Khanak collapsed onto the floor.

“But di!” Shreya interjected, “Anand is such a nice guy!”

Komal said, “From what I’ve seen, Anand is a young man with a very steady head on his shoulders.  If you speak to him, I’m sure he will understand. He will never force your hand. He loves you way too much to hurt you.”

Khanak stared at her Aunt through tear filled eyes, “What do you mean?”

 “Yes, I’ve seen it in his eyes, whenever he looks at you. Though he has probably never said so. He won’t refuse you anything.”

Khanak smiled wanly. She’d always thought she knew Anand very well. She’d never had any inkling of his feelings towards her. Never had he done anything to make her suspect it. He had always been a ready, caring companion and friend— her best friend.


Live life Bollywood Style!

‘Chaiya Chaiya’ song composed by Oscar winning composer A.R. Rehman sung by Sukhwinder Singh.

Featuring ShahRukh (the King) Khan and Malaika Arora

The song is also featured in the end credits of the Hollywood movie ‘The Inside Man.’

Could anything be more wistfully nostalgic?

Nothing can bring forth the flavor of iconic Bollywood like this song, which has captured and still captures the imagination of movie watchers not only in India but across the world.

Nothing is ridiculous or impossible especially when you are the flamboyant hero precariously balanced on top of a tiny blue mountain train singing and dancing to a foot tapping rhythm along with a beauteous village belle who leaves you stunned with her impossible contortions.

 Even today this number fills one with an unbound thirst for life.