Monday, July 16, 2018

Blue Doors!

I think I have some old connection or pichle janam ka saath with White walls and Blue doors!

I didn't even know just how much I was inclined towards the blue colour till I got busy constructing Ibaadat, our Delhi home. Until then, I thought I liked Pink, or to be more precise Fuchsia, the Rani Pink shade.

But with Ibaadat, and to every passer-by's delight, I have introduced the distinctive Santorini blue that is delightfully offset by the white walls. It, indeed, is a sight to behold.

Besides the ones you see at Ibaadat, here's a rather nice picture of a blue door against a white wall, from the trove of my Facebook friend Goncalo Pombeiro!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

I, too, have a ‘Sanju’ Story!

For my 11th, I had to shift, to my dismay and horror, to the all-girls Convent of Jesus and Mary, located in the City of Dehradun and a good 45-minute drive from the laidback cantonment of Clement Town where we lived.

But what was even more irksome was the culture shock that lay ahead of me. An all-girls school has a completely different milieu from a co-educational environment. The mindset of girls here, their body language, their jokes, their secret wishes and open desires, their way of looking at life and the world with men is nothing similar to that of girls from a co-educational background.

Since distance makes the heart grow fonder, the all-girls setting made the girls more aware of the boys, in a pining sort of way; that and the fact that we all were in our hormone-enriched teens.

Leading the brigade here was the beauteous, peaches & cream complexioned, stylish and sophisticated Seema, Brigadier Gulati’s daughter who lived in the Gun House, the most prestigious address in the Cantonment.

The ride to and from school in our giant three-ton school truck was made entertaining and aspirational by Seema’s stories and feats. Even at that age, she was one hell of a raconteur. One Monday, she got on the truck with her left hand covered in a dainty, chiffon kerchief. She began to regale us with her Sunday escapade in the Queen of Hills and her chance meeting with Sanjay Dutt at the Mussoorie Skating Rink. She talked about how he had looked dreamily into her eyes, teased her a bit, kissed her hand and signed his name on the back of it. With our jaws suspended in astonishment, she told us how she had not washed that prized hand since then. She pulled off the fabric dramatically to show the imprint that Dutt had presumably left on her hand.

In the days that rolled by, we discovered that it was a story fed on an over-appetite of Mills & Boons that Seema had dished out to us. We found out that there had been no such meeting but we also realized that Sanjay Dutt had become an MB hero for urban, convent girls in their late teens with levels of estrogen fired up.

I finally got to meet Sanjay Dutt, about two years down the line from Seema’s fictional story. He had come to Prabhat, one of the more popular cinema halls in Doon, for a premiere of his film ‘Jaan ki Baazi.’

Picture courtesy - Google Images

My mother and I had gone to see Tootsie, in the morning show that always featured Hollywood films. Just as we were about to leave the theatre at the end of the show, we met a college friend who announced to us the news about Sanjay Dutt’s appearance at the Hall for his film premiere.

Now Ma had seen and met a lot of film stars. Firstly, Dad had been friends with Sehgal ‘saab’ and I S Johar back in the day. So, Ma had seen several film shootings and hobnobbed with many stars in her younger days. At that point, I had no recollection of having met any cine star. I think this was going to be my first instance and Ma was quite encouraging.

She told me we would step out for a quick lunch at the nearby Laxmi South Indian restaurant, another Doon landmark, and return to the theatre to wait it out. The Bombay entourage was expected to arrive by 3 PM so there was not really too much time to kill.

I think the filmy party finally arrived by 5 PM but the excitement and anticipation of meeting the latest heartthrob of the Indian cinema were so high, that it didn’t matter at all. All our energy and the time we had on our hands had been spent on carving a strategy for meeting the hero.

When the actor arrived, all hell broke loose. In that state of utter chaos and pandemonium, no strategy would have worked. Jostling amongst the milling crowd we overheard that the guests had been taken to the Theater owner’s plush office. In the midst of the ‘mad-about-the-movies’ crowd running helter-skelter, Ma directed me to head up the stairs in the direction of the owner’s office.

I managed a toe-in into the theatre boss’s den. Not many girls had made past the melee of people clambering over each other to get close to the film star. As a matter of fact, I was the only female face around and was ushered in by the minders.

I inched closer to the centre of the office and got to stand at a vantage point from where I could see Sanjay Dutt clearly. He was accompanied by, among others, Gulshan Grover, who I think was the ‘Bad man’ of the film.

Dressed in a blue suede blazer and stonewashed blue Jeans the latest boy-man sensation was truly sexy. Radiant complexion with pink undertones, a green, 5 o’clock shadow and those dreamy, deep-set eyes made him even more luscious.

I don’t know how I got to be the only girl in the theatre owner’s chamber amongst a swelling group of local boys, but I caught Dutt’s attention. He beckoned me and engaged me in a light-hearted conversation. What was I doing? Did I like movies? Did I like his films? What were my interests? The sexy stud was quite the conversationalist. When he and Grover were asked to be seated, he asked me to sit with them.

It was comical to see all the attention being poured over him. Miraculously, giant marigold garlands appeared from nowhere and lanky, star-struck boys elbowed each other to put the garlands around their latest deity from tinsel town.

Overly pleased with all the adulation, Sanjay beamed and smiled his characteristic Nargis-like smile with the semi-pursed lips and looked around bemusedly with his hooded eyes, that went onto become one of his trademark features.

We now know, by his own admission, that he has had 308 girlfriends and then some. But even then, I noted his slight flirtatious ways. He was all gentlemanly but he knew how to shower a girl with attention. Sanjay made me feel special, looked directly at me when we spoke, was down to earth, had no starry airs, was focused on our piece of conversation when we engaged in a dialogue and did not to the least appear flighty, snobbish and restless.

But he was naughty as hell. Not indiscreet or improper. Not rowdy or perverse. Sanjay was impish and mischievous. Playful and wicked. Even when there was enough space on that large couch, he refused to move, as I sat sandwiched between the two. Gulshan Grover smiled and pushed as much into the wall to let me enjoy some space. Sanjay teased me, pulled my leg and cracked a joke or two.

I pulled out my new autograph book that, until then, only had the famous signature of India’s Iron Lady, the inimitable Mrs. Indira Gandhi.     

Sanjay signed my autograph book with his distinctive flair and large-heartedness, the traits he has come to be recognized with over time. He wrote “Love you too much,” and passed the book to Grover who signed off with a tamer message.

We laughed and talked some more. It really didn’t seem that I was meeting Sanjay Dutt and Gulshan Grover for the first time. The credit goes to them, that they made a gawky teenager feel so comfortable.

At some stage, I became conscious of the length of the evening I had spent with the two stars. And then there were glares from every nook of the room being cast my way – some admiring, many envious.

After a while, I excused myself and told Sanjay that I must be setting off. He teased me some more. As I got up from the couch, both Dutt and Grover, in a perfectly courteous and genteel manner, got up as well.

Sanjay held my hand to wish me goodbye. He asked me, teasingly, if I didn’t want his address. “Would you not want to write to me,” he prodded. 

I am sure he must have had big laughs at my expense through the evening, but when I refused to take his address Sanjay was slightly startled. I told him I preferred giving him mine so that I would know for sure that he would actually wish to correspond with me. He let the most genial smile escape; he held my slightly shaking hand again, this time in promise and said he understood me well.

As I stepped onto the street with Ma, I had a small group of men following me and asking for my autograph and requesting me to help them meet the famous star. Ma and I exchanged knowing smiles as I sprinted back home being carried on light air.

That day, I found first hand why he was indeed the Deadly Dutt. It has been of personal sadness to me, then, to see Sanjay Dutt devolve to a dopey, drooping Dutt.

His life has taken so many different trajectories with experiences that have evolved him but also taken away from what he started out with – the innocence, the carefree abandon, the ease in his demeanour.

If I were to meet him again, I must remind him of his promise to write to me. The tumultuous roller-coaster life he has led has brought in altogether different set of priorities, exigencies, demands, criticality and necessities.

But having come out of his personal hell, in one piece and stronger than before, this time I think he will!


Monday, June 25, 2018

King of Pop, the world's biggest entertainer of all time, still stirs our hearts!

RIP Michael Jackson - August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

I was acquainted with his music when I was in my teens. While the high point of the Convent Prom was that boys from St. Joseph's School, our brother school, were going to be there; the singularly most important part of the evening that made it so memorable was not the lanky boys in their new stubbles and croaky vocal chords, not their thin frames and cocky swagger, not even the fanciest of dresses that the girls wore. The lasting memory of that end-of-school-year Prom has been MJ’s distinctive voice that sang in a unique note and the sound that fell in its own genre like no other.

The second initiation came when I stepped into college; and a friend who was a BBC Radio regular boasted about being abreast with the latest musical fad of that time, yes Beat It, Billie Jean and Thriller. There was this mass hysteria that was fast engulfing the youth and I didn’t want to be left behind.

Once I had been indoctrinated by a gentle nudge from friends, I soon, of my own volition, got baptized into this holy sect of scintillating, never-heard-before sound. Such was the pull and drawing power of the music and the magnetism of its creator that we simply got sucked in.

The western music loving people of my generation had found a new God and his name was Michael Jackson. He was more than an enigma for us. To us, he was our musical messiah who herded us to the blessed land that lay beyond our daily trials and tribulations.

We grooved to his music at our dance parties that became so famous that they were sought-after in the Doon Valley of the 80s and early 90s. No jam sessions were complete without MJ’s albums being played to high decibels. My dancing partners and I chose Michael Jackson’s songs for our piece-de-resistance in the dance competitions which we ended up winning. Today, I would like to give credit to the music more than my alacrity and nimble-footedness on the dance floor.

Over the years, Michael Jackson’s music meant different things to me at different times. During the magical monsoons in Doon, I swayed to the lilting tunes of Ben, The Girl is Mine and Man in the Mirror. During my dancercises, I shook my body to his foot-tapping hits. Later, I marveled at the emotionality of his artistic temperament as I tuned into ‘We are the World,’ ‘Heal the World’ and ‘Black or White.’

The musical idol, who now twinkles amidst the stars, did not simply regale me with his unique beats and enchant me with his special music. MJ has left lasting impressions and a master class on life for me and a large number of people, both from my generation and beyond. Here’s what he brought into our lives -     

Acceptance – We were part of this large international community of young ones who were MJ converts. We had been transformed by his music and we were his disciples following his every dance move or new release. We found acceptance for ourselves amongst our peers and a sense of unity with the global world.

Confidence – That is what he instilled in us even from across the Atlantic. We knew his songs, we tried his thrusts and shimmies and walks. And because we did all this, we were never the shrinking violets or the wallflowers who dotted the corners of the room. We were out there having fun, bringing in a lot of back-slapping bonhomie, being the heart of the gatherings – the inspired lot who in turn inspired others in our coterie. And because we were confident souls in the social circuit, we were also bold not brazen, self-assured not cynical in our other pursuits as well.

Popularity – Because we attempted to move like him, because we were in step with what was in, because we were the groovy lot that jived to the MJ beat and were well-conversant with the MJ lingo, because we were this hip set that could sing MJ’s songs backwards and could use slang such as Beat It with a lot of élan; boy, were we popular.

I will always be indebted to Michael Jackson for helping me get an image makeover from a studious bookworm to this bubbly babe whom everybody wanted to know in college. And guess what, because I regarded MJ’s music with a sense of sanctity and enjoyed it for its sheer brilliance, uniqueness and ingenuity, I did not allow my reverence to get diluted with any peer pressure. So, I did no drugs, did not enjoy tipple – a dance party mainstay, did not let my grades fall and generally remained a good girl who was popular and fun-loving at the same time.  

Style - After his demise, I read in several of the obits that MJ was regarded as a style icon. My generation began following him long before the phrase was coined. We came out with our own versions of fedoras, white glove and socks, black shoes, skin-tight jeans and yes, belts. We not only cultivated this ‘MJ’ style but also had the smarts to carry it with a lot of chutzpah.

Stress –Michael Jackson’s music has been one of the biggest stress busters for a whole lot of us, even today. In my last job, at one point of time, getting to work became a nightmare. The commute to work used to be filled with dreadful thoughts of facing the hell boy at work, the only bright light being the Jackson CD playing on the car system. Willy-nilly it brought a smile to my lips, put a song in my heart, lightened my steps and proved to be more meditational and therapeutic than the entire course of Art of Living. Similarly, after a hard day’s work that stretched well beyond 10-11 hours, it was his music that helped me battle the stress.

Happiness – It can be said with utmost conviction that Michael Jackson’s music has always made us happy. Even ecstatic, at times euphoric, a lot of times rapturous but always, overridingly, happy.

If I wanted to shake myself from a state of ennui, if I wanted to put on my dancing shoes, if I wanted to beat the blues, if I wanted to stop being lazy and go for that walk, if I wanted a little pick-me-up, all I had to, nay have to do is listen to an MJ number. It always works for me. His music has that inherent feel-good quality to it that spells bliss, bright and bold.

Given the tragic life that he’s had, I wonder if he really knew how many lives he has touched positively and brought happiness to.

Talent - Michael Jackson was a huge trove of talent. He has been one of the most sensational singers of all time, his dancing skills were such that they are emulated to this day, his songwriting skills were extraordinary, his videos are legendary and above all, he was the most composite and ultimate entertainer. MJ has taught us that we, too, can multi-layer ourselves with multiple talents and endeavour to reach the zenith in our chosen areas.

Lessons of life – Finally, Michael’s iconic yet tragic life holds a lesson for all of us. Here are a few that hold a lot of meaning for me -

Little shining star Michael taught us that you can assume responsibility for your family and loved ones even at the tender ages of five or 11. You only need big shoulders and a genuine inclination in that direction.

You can face any assault to your person or mind and come out stronger. At least in the first 3-4 decades of his life, when he rode the upper crest, MJ seemed to have overcome all the negative influences of his childhood rather well. At one time he did seem to have slayed his personal demons triumphantly. 

In his leaving for eternity he has left this eternal lesson with us on how not to lead our lives. Drug abuse, accusations of child molestation, several liaisons – secret and otherwise, masks & gas chambers, needles & scalpels, tabloids & glowing tributes…………. Certain things in some professions are inherent. They come with the package. But for most, we ourselves are the decision-makers.

In his death, he has shown us that this is no way to go for anyone, leave alone a legend of his stature. The choices are in our hands. Are we willing to turn the stumbling stones into building blocks, the hazards into how-tos and the turbulence & turmoil into a tryst with destiny that strengthens the spirit and lays down the path for betterment?

MJ has taught us how to treasure all that one accumulates not by the stroke of luck but by the dint of one’s hard work. That he dithered it all away in his later years, should come as a sharp reminder to all of us, when we tend to get smug and snooty about it.

Michael Jackson, with his choicely penned lyrics and thoughtful words, urged us to look at the “man in the mirror and change some of his ways.”

He has shown us how talent and hard work can prevail over the biases. How the gifted and the genius can win over the prejudiced. With the global and incomparably huge recognition that MJ has received in his lifetime and so much more in death, he has overpowered the bias of colour, creed, race or religion.

In his musical prowess, his inventiveness, the sheer mastery over his craft and his uniqueness, Michael Jackson has taught us all to strive for excellence and aim for the stars.

And because he had it all before he lost everything – family, fortune, fame – Michael Jackson, in his tragic, untimely death, has taught us how not to squander away the reputation built with the building blocks of inspiration, perspicacity and sweat.

With his fan base and hysteria surpassing that seen for the likes of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll or the People’s Princess, Michael Jackson filled our hearts with love for him and adulation like for no other, just by the magic of his music and the brightness of his brilliance.

Michael, we miss you. I am sure you rest in peace, now that you are in God’s embrace, far from the world of ghouls and ghosts you created for yourself!


Picture courtesy - Google Images

Note - The article first appeared on Daily O on 25th June 2018

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Self before Gender; Country before Self!

OK, I will address the elephant in the room.

Since when is adhering to a country's cultural lay-downs seen as misogynistic and regressive towards women?

Given all the Indian hypocrisy, aren't there different rules for both men and women in terms of attire, socially acceptable behaviour, sexually inclined conduct in public and so on that we'd like foreigners visiting India to adhere to? Similar patterns and expectations are found everywhere else in the world.

Would it not have been more mature and large-hearted and bigger minded for Soumya Swaminathan to keep her sporting spirit alive and play for her country?

Isn't country first, self second?

Also, playing in a country as a player from another country, in both places where gender issues thrive and women are considered second class citizens, would have been a far bigger win.

What's a mere headscarf to cover a head that encases a magnificent brain!

Social media may keep the issue alive for some time but history would have remembered Soumya more as a winning champ than as a girl who refused to wear a scarf.

While I do understand where Soumya is coming from, I think the examples that women should set must have a larger scope, deeper impression and more profound influence.

Picture courtesy - Pinterest and Elle

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Amitabh, Priyanka, Vidya, Sushmita, Ranbir, Ranveer, Aishwarya, Alia - So who is your favourite public speaking Bollywood actor?

The art and skill of oratory do not go hand in hand with the profession of acting it seems. There are scores of actors who light up only when the camera comes on. When asked to speak in interviews or at public forums, there are actors who turn out to be damp squibs and as scintillating as the night sky during New Moon.

Yet, put them in front of a camera, put on the arc lights and they shine out with their histrionics and very impressive oeuvre of high drama and finely nuanced performances. Names such as Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor, India’s first Superstar Rajesh Khanna, even Akshay Kumar come to mind. Aamir Khan, who I feel approaches his work like a genius and transforms completely for every role, fails to impress when at the podium. Shahid Kapur manages to pass muster but he still has to fine tune his oratorical skills. Ranveer Singh, true to the image he wishes to cultivate, hams it up everywhere. Shahrukh Khan appears laboured when attempting to be serious; while during a normal interaction he keeps it down to artlessness with his plain speak. 

The Shahenshah of the Indian film industry (he despises the term Bollywood), Amitabh Bachchan, stands torso, shoulder and head above most people before his time and now. The sheer magic of his rendition that is tailor-made to suit what he is mouthing – from poetry recital to a public discourse to an interview, his voice modulation, hell just his voice which is iconic in its own right, his fluency in any language he chooses to speak in, the diction, the attention given to pronouncing each word just the way it is meant to be, the effortlessness even if he may have practiced day and night; Big B’s skills with the spoken word are legendary. He has set a fine example for generations of people and has had people from his own fraternity follow and learn from him. From Rekha to Anushka, Amitabh Bachchan has been emulated by many.

That brings me to the moot point. Why aren’t all or most public figures good public speakers? Remember Rajiv Gandhi? And how, over time, he just had to pick up the threads and put enough effort into coming across as a passably moderate speaker! In direct contrast were leaders like Indira Gandhi and Atal Behari Vajpayee who had people eating out of their hands by the impeccable prowess over their public speaking.

Just as with political figures, with film stars too, I am quite confounded to note that most of them do not live up to their public personas each time they open their mouth. I seriously wonder why it is so when they have innumerable opportunities and sizeable experience to hone the skill and practice the form. Because, as an offshoot of their profession, whether they like it or not, they will always have to speak in public; then why don’t these highly public figures train themselves well and better their performance in public with every opportunity! Public speaking is an integral component and perpetual pressure of their profession that they cannot turn away from, yet many of them stay abysmal in their presentations.

The Hollywood film, The King’s Speech, imparts a fine lesson on the whys and wherefores of the significance of Public Speaking, taking it back to the time of King George VI. The future king had to hire a speech and language therapist who not only rids the royal of his stammering problem but instills confidence and interest for oratory in him.

The ordinary folk like us resort to practicing on family and friends and using the good ol’ ‘speaking in front of the mirror’ technique, but the influential and famous have the easy option to hire trainers, therapists, speech companions to come out in flying colours when in public.    

I have been closely watching the artists from my gender to see how they fare, once again marveling at those who hold the torch high and grossly displeased with the ones who just don’t get it right, after all these years and such wonderful opportunities.

Sadly, only a handful of Bollywood heroines are good public speakers; if you can call them that.

I think, of the entire lot, Priyanka Chopra is the most impressive. She has a slightly higher cerebral quotient than most, speaks well and lucidly, has a command over her talk capsules, keeps the audience engaged and interested, appears knowledgeable and molds herself well to suit the platform she is on - in India, in US, in Bangladesh. Yes, she does come across as fake and put on many a time, but even at that moment, she manages to ensnare and entertain the audience that she may be addressing. And that is a win-win.

I also like Vidya Balan a lot. In fact, I like Vidya Balan more than I like Priyanka Chopra. She stays rooted, appears sincere, connects with the pulse of the audience, is shorn off any pretense or frill, is intelligent, and knows when to inject pleasant peals of laughter even when dishing out a sharp pill. My only grouse - she makes very few public outings.

One of the rising stars, in more ways than one, is Alia Bhatt. In spite of what she went through - public ridicule-wise post her lack of GK on Koffee with Karan - Alia lets confidence and composure sit well on her petite shoulders. She is upfront somewhat - it is a mere fraction of what her father Mahesh Bhatt is known for but she will soon learn her lessons from her illustrious Dad. And there is this sense of honesty about her - you know the kind which says like me the way I am - that is quite endearing.

Readers of a brief Facebook post I wrote on this subject urged me to consider Kangana Ranaut. If anything, she has been extremely admirable for her turnaround. The fortitude with which she fought off her lisp, the manner in which she taught herself to speak in good Hindi and English, the way she steeled her nerves to come across as stable and confident, if I were to give a The King’s Speech award then I would give it to her without batting an eyelid.

Some of the readers have also suggested the name of the fabulous and fabled Waheeda Rehman. Whatever little I have heard of her, she has come across as a true blue Bollywood royalty, with grace and gravitas, with excellent enunciation and a voice that feels like silk on skin. But I have heard very little of her to talk about her at length with regard to speechmaking. 

Amongst the worst ones is easily Hema Malini. It is even more shockingly exasperating because Hema Malini has refused to get her locution right in spite of having worked in Hindi films for almost all her career span. Also because, once again, she chose a very public profession of Politics for her second innings! Yet the woman refuses to train herself, learn to speak clearly and coherently, attach importance to such things as flow and punctuation and pronunciation. Completely unmindful of the audience she continues to hyperventilate and let the sound of her voice crash against our ears each time she utters a word.

Then there is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. I mean come’ on now! An international beauty queen, a global icon, an international cosmetic brand ambassador and someone who has had a million high profile opportunities thrust upon her - such great platforms that any girl would die for; yet she is such an earsore to listen to. In fact, each time she opens her trap and is sitting on a panel, I literally have my heart in my mouth for fear that she will make a fool of herself in that august gathering. Aishwarya is a good tutorial on how not to speak in public. She must realize that her excessively punctuating, silly giggles do not save her from her lackluster performance.

As a matter of fact, I have always been scared for Aishwarya. From the time she began appearing on David Frost to David Letterman to the more recent Oprah Show and her myriad outings in Cannes. In 2018, yet again all she did was giggle uncontrollably, latch on like a teenager to Dame Helen and speak her favourite, oft-repeated ten lines, “Pleasure is all mine. It will remain a special memory. Incredible interest in our cinema. I get asked about my experience. We are very, very privileged and very very honoured. We have a rich body of work. Thank you for embracing us and our work. It is always fun to return to Paris, LA….Y’all are so loving.” 

While the French film director Lisa Azuelos was all meat, Dame Helen Mirren all grace and good content, our dear Ash remained as shaky and flimsy like a piece of jelly floating on her imaginary cloud of Bollywood Queenhood. Will somebody please tell her that a bunch of adjectives and interjections and very-verys liberally sprinkled with giggles don’t necessarily make a great speech.

The other offender is Jaya Bachchan, who is actually a master class on how to antagonize people. With her anger management issues, bad, rude behaviour, haughtiness and despicably condescending attitude, Jaya is like a raging bull let loose in a China Shop.

A real shocker on my list of bad speakers is the very polished and Swiss finishing school sophisticate Simi Grewal. Even with most things working in her favour - great looks, great body, great dressing sense, good exposure, good command over the language - yet when Simi speaks it has the vibrancy of a somnolence-inducing sedative. And the overly sweetness, well it will raise the blood sugar levels even in the non-diabetic.

Rekha, the quintessential Amitabh Bachchan acolyte and copycat, regardless of her inherent charm, the aura she has created for herself, the fondness for languages she displays when she speaks, the beauty she exudes, has not left a mark. She has carried out her Bachchan fetish too far, almost to laughable limits. And has forced herself to stay stuck in her Umrao Jaan courtesan character, which is good only for certain times, but on others, it becomes a tiresome caricature.

One lady who had everything going for her - intelligence, voice, presentation, body language, the sheer presence, her aura, her sexiness - and held a lot of promise has sadly lost the plot and gone downhill. Sushmita Sen used to be ravishing, riveting and razzmatazzy at one point. Now she orbits around Mars unhinged and stays in a place that earthlings don't wish to visit.

Before the detractors tell me to let the poor actresses be and the trolls come tumbling down to brand me as judgmental, let me explain why it is essential for public figures – politicians, business leaders, film stars – to be good public speakers. The first reason is obvious – they are in a very public profession and get to be in front of the camera and mike almost every day. With such exposure and with such opportunity, it beats me to think why would they not wish to present their best foot forward.

Also, more than politicians and business leaders, it is the film stars that are the most followed and emulated. Their fan following is huge and their influence extremely deep. What a fine example they would set in the minds of the young and the impressionable with their exemplary attributes, public speaking being one such essential trait.

Some actors are thankfully already setting great goals for us here. Tune back to Bachchan and tune ahead to Benedict Cumberbatch, Sandra Bullock, Will Smith, Wentworth Miller, Taraji P Henson, Sylvester Stallone, Peter Dinklage and Jim Carrey – the last two for their absolute magnificence and magnetism – for irresistibly profound tutelage and lasting inspiration! Watch the YouTube video on the Top Ten Speakers from Filmdom to see what I mean.

Mike drop!

Note - This article first appeared on Daily O on 13th June 2018

Picture courtesy - Google Images

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Kitchen hack - Re-heating a Pizza Pie!

Firstly pizzas should not be reheated. They must be had oven fresh; that too made in a wood-fired oven.

But we are not always lucky and have to resort to ordering take-aways.

In such cases, there is a right and wrong way of reheating the pizza pie. The wrong way, of course, is to put it in a microwave and heat. All that does for you is make the base saggy & soggy and the cheese lumpy.

The right way is to put the slices in a pan, sprinkle some drops of water around it, in the empty spaces, cover the pan with a lid and heat it on the stove for some time.

The pizza slices heated thus have crisp bases, almost oven toasted and the cheese cooks and melts in a proper manner.

Try it and let me know.

Friday, June 08, 2018

The Coppersmith Barbet, crimson-breasted Barbet!

"Like other barbets, they chisel out a hole inside a tree to build their nest. They are mainly fruit-eating but will take sometimes insects, especially winged termites. The call is a loud rather metallic tuk…tuk…tuk (or tunk), reminiscent of a copper sheet being beaten, giving the bird its name. Repeated monotonously for long periods, starting with a subdued tuk and building up to an even volume and tempo, the latter varying from 108 to 121 per minute and can continue with as many as 204 notes. They are silent and do not call in winter."

- Source Wikipedia