Twinkling Mrs Funnybones

 

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Reading a book by someone whose name “rhymes with sprinkle and wrinkle”? I don’t think so. That, by the way, is not me taking a jab at the author Twinkle Khanna, but one of the very candid digs at herself that Mrs Funnybones makes during the course of the book. And this is what made me pick up the book. Honestly, despite all their chic poise and impeccable dressing sense, I don’t have a particularly great opinion of our Bollywood starlets. Jokes on Alia Bhatt’s intellect are by now stale and have you ever heard the style diva Sonam talk? My point simply is that when it comes to matters of the brain, even our new age leading ladies leave plenty to be desired.

So, it was with a lot of scepticism that I had read Twinkle Khanna’s column a while ago. In fact a friend sent me the link and I was pleasantly surprised. Not that I became her avid reader. I would read it whenever she sent me the link, have a good laugh and that was it. Purchasing the book was more a matter of necessity rather than choice- on my flight from Bangalore to Chandigarh, I didn’t have too many options to kill time. It was then that the Twinkling Mrs Funnybones came to my rescue. And truth be told, I enjoyed every bit of it.

First things first, the book isn’t going to go down annals of Indian writing in English as a trailblazer or anything of the sort and it’s not meant to either. What it in fact does do is give you few good laughs as Twinkle Khanna takes you on a roller coaster ride through the trials and tribulations of a working mother. If you are expecting any voyeurish peeps into the life of the rich and famous Bollywood couple, you’ll be sorely disappointed.Quite to the contrary, it is this very down to earth, easy to relate tone and setting that makes the book immensely readable and likeable. The Bollywood superstar husband, like most husbands, makes fleeting appearances in his wife’s life and is given due tongue in cheek deference as the “man of the house”. The only peep you get into this 5 star life is the rather infamous incident of her unbuttoning her husband’s jeans at a fashion show. And that too sans any drama but with all of her trademark humour. Yesteryears sexy Bobby is just another annoying yet lovable mother, who, like all mothers, has done innumerable things down the years to traumatize her daughter at different stages in her life, starting with naming her “Twinkle”!! Her 11 something year old boy is rightly referred to as the “prodigal son” and the little baby, as, well, the baby. Like most married women, her life involves juggling around work, family and numerous other chores as well that were until late taken care of by men but are now dumped, among other things, on women. With a battery of “domestic wonders” and likes of Mansukh Bhai, the internet man, at her disposal, her life is definitely better than most women but at the end of the day it’s the same universal issues that she’s dealing with – growing up children, recalcitrant mom in law etc etc.

Her style is rather like that of Bridget Jones novels- perhaps it’s the chronological narration of the day and events that give this impression or the overall nonchalant air, but Bridget Jones is what came to mind as I started reading the book. Lucid, easy going, it carries the reader through. Since it is a collection of her columns, one can leave it anywhere and pick up any chapter randomly and start reading. Funny and light as the book is, she often touches a nerve and makes you sit back and think…as she reflects while saying good bye to her son, who is going on a school trip – “ One day he will be in my place and what he will learn is that trying and holding on are complicated and challenging things, but the most difficult thing in life is to love fiercely  and then let go”.

Yes, so it is. Life is a myriad blend of the lofty and the banal and the more you can laugh and carry on, easier it is. Mrs Funnybones does exactly that making it a worthwhile read.

2 States

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2 States” brings home, at times poignantly and at times humorously, the bittersweet truth that every married Indian couple knows, often much to their cost- that in India one marries not an individual but his/her family; that the journey between falling in love and getting married is a painful, arduous task involving many more people than the one you fell in love with; that like it or not, for all our modern outlook and viewpoints, we are inextricably caught up in our background and community.

To think of it, the movie doesn’t have anything new to offer. Boy meets girl; they fall in love; all is hunky dory until marriage time when the parents, who belong to different communities, need to be won over. After the usual hiccups, everyone relents and all’s well that ends well. Add to it a few more stereotypes like dysfunctional father-son relationship; vulgar, loud and flashy Punjabis vs refined, boring “Madrasi” and this is “2 States” for you. Yet, there is a freshness about the movie, that despite it being overstretched into 2 ½ hour of screen time, it reaches out to you.

In a way, this Dharma Productions movie takes off from where most other Karan Johar movies ended. Yes there was a dig at the cultural mindset of Gujaratis in Kal Ho Na Ho and at the rich vs poor dichotomy in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham but nowhere was this cultural Diaspora the protagonist itself. The candyfloss romance in the hallowed portals of IIM-A is but a backdrop against which the diametrically opposite 2 States meet and clash. The younger generation, played ably by the effervescent Alia as the Tam Brahm Ananya and by Arjun Kapoor as the reserved, gawky Punjabi Krish, is able to look beyond the cultural differences and foresee a happy future for themselves. In fact, with their cosmopolitan outlook and mindset, where pre marital sex is as normal as having a cup of coffee together, they don’t even strike one as coming from disparate backgrounds and communities. Enter the parents and the proverbial hell breaks loose.

The movie carries the cliché of loud Punjabis and cultured Tamilians to its extreme with Amrita Singh playing the loud-mouthed, though well meaning, Punjabi mother and Revathy, the soft and silent Tamilian mother, very convincingly. Yes, there are exaggerations but one can overlook those in the name of creative/poetic license. Alia Bhatt is riveting as Ananaya and Arjun Kapoor is able to hold his own in playing a character so different from his earlier movie. The seasoned veterans as the supporting cast make it lovely ensemble. With decent music by Shankar-Ehsaan and Loy and picturesque locales, the movie holds your attention despite numerous dips in the 2 ½ hours of running time.

I am no fan of Chetan Bhagat, his novels or ramblings. The only reason I did watch 2 States was that somehow the promos reminded me of “3 Idiots” and I was hoping that “2 States” the movie would be much better than 2 States the novel ( even though I have not read the novel), pretty much like Five Point Someone was not even a patch on 3 Idiots. In a country like ours, where every state has its own sub cultures and communities as different from each other as humanly possible, a cultural clash of 2 states is a bit of an oversimplification. Yet, it drives home the point that like it or lump it, Indian marriages are not between two people but two families, two communities, if you please. If you realise this truth before marriage and decide to work through it, you have a movie like “2 States”; if not, you have one of the typical saas-bahu tamashas or a Suraj Barjataya type extended family sagas. Either way, the tragedy is not the family or community involvement/ interference. The tragedy is if the couple succumbs to these pressures and differences and loses sight of their togetherness. “2 States” drives home this point beautifully and for that alone is worth a watch. Now, maybe, I will overcome my aversion of Chetan Bhagat and read the book as well.

Yeh Jawaani …Hai Confusing..

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Yeah I know adolescence and adulthood are confusing- possibly the worst time of your entire life when you think you’ve solved life’s mysteries, unlocked its deepest questions and secrets that have beguiled the wise men down the ages only to find out later that you’ve just been living in a fool’s paradise.  Right now however it is the movie “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani” that I’m talking about. I so desperately wanted to catch the first day first show of the movie expecting it to be something of a cult movie on the lines of “Dil Chahta Hai” or “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”. Instead it turned out to be a fairly damp squib where you need to convince yourself time and  again that the 3 friends, played by Ranbir Kapoor, Kalki and Aditya Roy Kapoor are indeed school time buddies; that the new entrant in their group, the studious Deepika, gels in perfectly to become one of them( and not simply fall for Ranbir Kapoor). The chemistry between friends that rocked Dil Chahta Hai and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, is just not there. Yes they have a great time at Manali but that’s about it. Neither do we see any real bonding between them during this trip nor do we see the bond develop between Deepika and Kalki thereafter so as to believe that Deepika will indeed be Kalki’s best friend at the former’s wedding. All that we see at this wedding is 4 people meeting again after 8 years where the successful man  ( Ranbir)has to bear the brunt of hurt ego of the failed alcoholic with a gambling problem ( Aditya Roy). The 2 women are happy just to be adding glamour to the scene without coming across as really being bothered about their “friends”. Yes Kalki sends an emotional video invite to Ranbir, but as I said before- it just does not click or convince. As a story of never dying friendship, this one is a total wash out.

My other problem with it is the portrayal of the leading man Ranbir Kapoor. There seems to be an urgent, almost desperate, desire to make him fit the mould of an irresponsible protagonist as in “Wake Up Sid”. As far as I could tell, this is a boy responsible and mature enough to know what he wants, earn enough for it and go and follow his dreams. Nowhere do we see him leading the life of a rich, spoilt brat blowing up his father’s money. His falling however seems to be his desire to choose the path less travelled, to not fall into the humdrum routine of a 9 to 5 job, marry and settle down. He loves to travel and makes a living out of it. What is so wrong or irresponsible about that? Unfortunately he is high up on the mountains trekking and is thus inaccessible when his father dies. That is a burden , a regret he carries and will probably carry for the rest of his life. But not only can that happen to the best of us, but that doesn’t make him a bad or irresponsible son or a bad human being. Nowhere do we get a feeling that he is being selfish or immature or irresponsible except that the characters keep on saying it again and again to brow beat you into seeing Ranbir Kapoor so.

Sadly, despite the hype, great collections and a dazzling lead pair, the movie just doesn’t work, not for me at least. And that is a pity because I’m always looking to add to my collection of movies that are an ode to friendship. As it is there are not many in that genre and this one fails to make it either.