Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Young at art

Whenever I change Xena's clothes, she has this hilarious habit of saying "Hand klangya?" ("Hand kahan gaya?", or "Where did the hand go?") before her hands emerge from the ends of her sleeves, and "Toe klangya?" before her toes emerge from the ends of her pants. I've been trying to capture it on camera for the longest time. Finally, today, during one of our fingerpainting sessions, she said it when I put on her painting bib, and I got it on camera! Yooohooo!

Okay, the second video is just us talking about random stuff as she paints so bewdas might find it boring. The mother in me of course doesn't. If you manage to watch it though, you'll see how she still refers to 'Angry Bird' as 'Abhijeet' (or something like that). I still don't know why!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cast in the same mould

Sayesha Smitten Showbiz Kitten has landed yet another internship, this time with the Bhatts. One might wonder why someone who is the ahem, star reporter of the Akh-bar needs to do internships. Let's just say that the Akh-bar, just like the drinks at the bar where it is distributed, is on the house and SSSK has bills to pay. So she makes her way to her first day of work. It's the banquet hall of a fancy hotel. There is a sign outside that says 'Aashiqui 2 casting'. She is excited at the prospect. Not that she was a fan of Aashiqui the original, but going by her previous experience, casting is always fun.

There is a bouncer at the door. Why, she doesn't know, but he eyes her with suspicion. He is large of frame and SSSK is chicken of heart.

"Yes?" He says.

"Err.. I'm a reporter."

He puts a large hand in front of her.

"No media allowed."

SSSK is at first flattered that someone actually referred to her as media, but she quickly recovers. "No, I mean, I am not a reporter today. I'm here... on an assignment..."

"You're not a reporter but you're here on an assignment?"

"I mean... errr, I am not here in the capacity of a reporter. I'm here to moonwalk for Bhatt Sir."

"Moonwalk? Moonwalk for Bhatt sir?" He glares coldly.


"Do you mean moonlight?"

"Oh! Right! Moonlight. Not moonwalk. Definitely not moonwalk. No moonwalking for Mahesh Bhatt." SSSK is red in the face.

He checks her pass and lets her in. She breathes in relief and looks around. The hall has been neatly partitioned and labelled. The casting team is near the big stage. At the two far corners of the hall are two sections -- one to cast the male lead and the other for the female lead. SSSK proceeds to find Mahesh Bhatt and pass on her salutations. He couldn't bother less. In fact, he does not remember who she is. He asks her to sit down and take notes. She beams. She loves taking notes. Especially when perched on trees, but no tree is to be seen in the vicinity. She perches on its closest relative, a wooden chair.

Suddenly there is a commotion at the entrance. A rather nasal shout is heard. Everyone looks up. It is Kumar Sanu! What is he doing here?

"Where is Mahesh Bhatt??" He pushes his way in. The bouncer has been rendered helpless by the high frequency of the voice. He staggers back. Kumar Sanu walks in.

Mahesh Bhatt looks up. "Yes, who are you?"

"Who am I?? I am Kumar Sanu. I am the one who made your first Aashiqui what it was. And now I hear you're getting some unheard-of singers for the sequel??"

Mahesh Bhatt buries his head in his hands. "How many times do I have to tell people??? THIS IS NOT A SEQUEL!"

"Whatever. I demand to be the lead singer. How can there be an Aashiqui without Kumar Sanu??"

Suddenly there is another commotion at the entrance. A more nasal shout is heard. It is none other than Himesh Reshammiya! The bouncer is now on the floor, cupping his ears and writhing in pain. Himesh walks in.

"Mahesh Bhai! Kya Mahesh Bhai! Main auto mein Kumar Sanu ka peechha karte karte yahan aaya aur pata chala ki Aashiqui 2 ban rahi hai?"

"Ban rahi hai but I'll be singing the songs, okay?" Kumar Sanu says.

"Kya Mahesh Bhai! Aap isko le rahe ho?? Contemporary movie hai, contemporary voice chahiye. But still keeping the nasal touch, hai na?" Himesh grins proudly.

"Himeshbhai, please. Koi aur director nahin mila?? Mere hi peechhe kyun padey ho yaar???" Mahesh Bhatt asks.

"Because", Himesh starts singing loudly, "Aashiqui banayaaaa, Aashiqui banayaaaa, Aashiqui banayaaaa aapne!" He concludes his "song", looking very pleased with himself. Mahesh Bhatt is not amused.

"Hello! Listen, the movie's album is done. I know you're probably deaf from rehearsing that... that thing that you just sang, but if you try hard, you can already hear the soundtrack of Aashiqui 2 in the background. And it is perfect. You heard that? PERFECT. I am not changing anything about the album."

Himesh is crestfallen. He sinks into a chair next to SSSK and keenly listens to the songs.

"Solid album hai sala. Sahi bola, perfect. Koi flaw, koi weakness hai is album mein? Main kis muh se bolun ki mujhse gawao?"

"Muh se??? You mean naak se?" SSSK asks cheekily.

Himesh glares.

"Sorry sorry. You were asking about flaws in the songs. Hai na flaws, Himeshbhai. Ek bataaun?" SSSK quips.

"What?? Tell me!"

"Inconsistency hai. Banda pehle gata hai 'Hum tere bin ab reh nahin sakte', phir kehta hai 'tere bina kya wajood mera'?? Go ahead, point it out to Mahesh Bhatt. Maybe he will redo the song with you?"

"Oh wow. I will. At once. But... why are you helping me? Aren't you Mahesh Bhatt's assistant?"

"I am," says SSSK with a wink, "but I'm also Narad muni's assistant on the side. Heh heh!"

Himesh confronts Mahesh with the aforementioned information. Mahesh Bhatt looks around helplessly.

SSSK springs into action. And dialogue. "But Himeshbhai... your most famous song 'Aashiq banaya aapne' also had 'Tere bin raat katti nahin hai'!"

Mahesh Bhatt looks at her approvingly.

Himesh glares at SSSK.

"Told you I'm Narad Muni's assistant too." SSSK leans over and whispers with a shrug.

"Mahesh bhai, please. You know that song 'Sun raha hai na tu, ro raha hoon main'? It sounds so like me. Please let me sing it? I promise my rendition of 'ro raha hoon main' audience ko bhi rula degi." Himesh is not giving up.

"I am sure. I am sure. Mujhe toh abhi se rona aa raha hai yeh baat sunkar." Mahesh sighs.

"Please please Mahesh bhai, let me do an unplugged version of the song?"

"Unplugged? Ha! The only thing I want unplugged right now is YOU. Unplug yourself off my couch with immediate effect!"

Meanwhile, Kumar Sanu is getting irritated at all this undue attention towards Himesh.

"Suna nahin Mahesh Bhai ne kya bola? Get out of here, you nosey-parker!" He says.

"Look who's talking!" laughs Himesh.

"Both of you get out of here, I don't want any nasal voices going ooooon-aaaannnn in my Aashiqui 2!" Mahesh Bhatt is losing it now.

Hearing that, suddenly Kumar Sanu and Himesh are united like long-lost brothers.

"Nasal kisko bola re? Ooooon-aaaannnn kisko bola re?" Himesh says.

"That's right! Don't naak it till you have tried it!" says Kumar Sanu. The khatar-naak duo high-five each other and guffaw helplessly.

Mahesh Bhatt looks at SSSK helplessly. "Get these two jokers out. I can't stand their naak-naak jokes anymore."

SSSK turns to both and says, "Hey! You two, naak it off." She bursts into peals of laughter.

Mahesh Bhatt glares at SSSK.

"Sorry sir, but ek last wala toh banta tha na?" SSSK says, turning red.

The bouncer is finally up and about. He has borrowed ear defenders from the construction workers outside. He drags Kumar Sanu and Himesh away.

"Finally we can get to work." Says Mahesh Bhatt. "You, intern, go walk around and see what kind of actors are here for the audition."

SSSK hops down from her chair and walks around with her notebook and pencil.

The section for the girls is teeming with actress-wannabes. As SSSK starts counting them, she spots Shakti Kapoor walk in with his daughter Shraddha. Shraddha looks at the sea of faces, many of them prettier than hers, and has a panic attack.

"Papa, let's go back. I can't do this."

"Relax, beta. You will do fine. Mogambo ki grand-niece hai, role toh lekar jaayegi. Now go and fix your hair and make-up. I'll wait here."

Shraddha is off to powder her nose.

Shakti Kapoor advances towards the group of waiting girls.

"Auuuuu!!! So many of you... Audition mein maza aane wala hai..." He bellows loudly. A few of them look up and gasp in horror at the thought of being auditioned by him.

Shakti Kapoor claps his hands and says, "Okay girls, let's get started. I'm going to be sitting on this chair here. All of you queue up and say to me one by one, 'Ballll-mah!' With feeling, okay?"

Shrill shrieks invade the room as all the girls run helter skelter. SSSK also runs back towards the stage. Mahesh Bhatt looks up. He is surprised to see that not a single girl is present for the audition. Then the restroom door opens and Shraddha Kapoor walks in, looking confused.

"Ek hi hai, sir." SSSK says, panting.

Mahesh Bhatt shakes his head.

"Tsk tsk! I knew this could happen. After watching Sunny Leone in Jism, no one wants to do a debut with us anymore. Sigh. Theek hai, yeh jo bhi hai, isko sign kar lo."

"Okay, sir."

"Ladkon ka kya haal hai? Any good ones?"

Sayesha looks at the sea of boys and starts counting.

"Sir, there are 187 boys here today. 186 of them have long rebonded hair, with a very silky lock falling over one eye."

Mahesh Bhatt does a facepalm. "Sheesh. Why do they think we will cast a Rahul Roy look-alike??"

"Sir, this is Aashiqui 2. Obviously, it is expected to follow up on the original, isn't it? Leap and all that. Hai na?"

"Leap??? LEAP?? Mujhe Ekta Kapoor samjha hai??"

"Oh, sorry. Is it a remake then??"

"Remake?? Mujhe Sajid Khan samjha hai??"

"Sir, why is it called Aashiqui 2, sir? Sequel hai na?"

"SIGH. Was Jism 2 the sequel of Jism 1? Was Murder 2 the sequel of Murder 1???"

"Hmmm... point taken. But sir, what is with these numbers? Why Jism 1/2, Murder 1/2/3, Zeher 1/2...? Why not totally fresh titles??"

"Tum nahin samjhogi. All this is just in the interim. I am about to start on my masterpiece soon. It will not have any 1, 2, 3. It will be the grandest project of my life, with the biggest superstar and the freshest title, my biggest blockbuster, the ultimate Bhatt Productions' movie..."

Mahesh Bhatt zones out, staring blankly into space.

"Sir? Sir!"

"Huh? Haan haan... I'm here. Achha this 187th chap, what's he like? I mean what's his hair like?"

"Afro hai, sir."

"Afro hai???"

"Yes, sir."

"Very good! As different from straight silky hair as... err... an Afro. Any other details about him?"

"Sir, main abhi baat karke aaya hoon. SRK ka bhai hai, sir." One of the other assistants says.

"WHAT?!!" Mahesh Bhatt is stunned.

"Sir, I think he's lying. SRK does not have a brother." SSSK says, outraged.

"Arre you don't know, all these Khans have brothers. Aamir ka bhi hai aur Salman ka bhi. SRK must also have one then." says the assistant.

"Naam kya hai is ladke ka?" Mahesh Bhatt asks.

"Koi Kapoor hai, sir." The assistant says.

"Kapoor??! Ha! I knew it. How can SRK's brother be a Kapoor???" SSSK says indignantly.

"Arre, actors change names all the time. Akshay Kumar is actually Rajeev Bhatia. Mallika Sherawat is Reema Lamba. Kapoor is trending right now, isne bhi naam change kar liya hoga. Ya ho sakta hai koi cousin hoga SRK ka?"

"Sir, don't be hasty. Let me find out more..." SSSK says.

"Nothing doing. He does not have Rahul Roy type of hair, and he's related to SRK. Aur kya chahiye? Finally my dream project will be launched. With SRK on board." Mahesh Bhatt starts zoning again.

"You want to do a film with SRK?" SSSK asks.

"Since forever! But he has no time for me. Well, now he will. Because I will make a star out of his kid brother. He will have to repay me by playing the lead in my mega venture."

"The mega venture you mentioned earlier?" SSSK asks.

"Yes. This movie will be an amalgamation of everything Bhatt Productions stands for."

"Sir, title kya hai? You said it will not have any numbers and will be the freshest title ever."

"Correct. The title is 'Paapi Jism ke Zeher se Murder ke Woh Lamhe'.

SSSK's jaw drops. She shakes her head in disbelief.

"Quick. Go, sign him." says Mahesh Bhatt.

SSSK walks over to the boy with the Afro. He looks strangely familiar.

As he signs the contract and hands it over to her, she says, "Errr... I need to check on a few things in your portfolio."


"You are SRK's brother? Like, really?"

"That's right. I am not only SRK's brother, I'm also a brother to KRK."

"KRK? That loony bin KRK??"

"Oh no, not that. I meant Kunaal Roy Kapoor. Woh Delhi Belly wala?"

"WAIT A MINUTE! So by SRK, you mean..."

"Sidharth Roy Kapoor, CEO, UTV. Mr. Vidya Balan. Why, what did you think?"

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Loopy and looping

Ok, so I made this totally amazing discovery today and I can't sleep tonight unless I have stuck a big fat notice on the bar's noticeboard about this.

Remember the last time when all the songs of a Hindi movie used to be good? No? Frankly speaking, me neither. Okay, how about the time when almost all songs of a Hindi movie used to be good? Somewhat? I'm thinking Parineeta, Jism, etc. Yeah, so that doesn't happen anymore. (Several folks recommended Talaash and Barfi to me, but I didn't find it all that loop-worthy after a few times. I was also very disappointed with Rockstar - both the music and the movie.) These days, I consider myself lucky if I like one song in the album. One song that is not gimmicky or 'designed' to be a chartbuster. One song with some proper lyrics, if not poetry in it, one song that does not say inane things like ishq wala love (I still maintain that the tune is lovely though) or talk about Munni's/Sheila's/Chameli's assets and abilities. There have been flashes in the pan like 'Saibo' and 'Mora piya' but they don't come by often.

Though I'm still in touch with what new movies are in the pipeline, lately I've stopped following music albums of new movies. I don't know what's out there anymore and I don't care. The last time I listened to the weekly top 15 in the hope of finding just one good new song, I was disgusted. Seriously. Sample these songs - Totey ud gaye, Punjabiyan di battery, babli badmaash, main senti hoon, lat lag gayee. (Check it out yourself if you don't believe me; these songs are still in the top 15 of several charts).

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not being a Bollysongsnob here. I like my 'Soni de nakhre' kind of songs as much as the next guy, and I am all for them in the gym, but some days I just want to lie back and be consumed by a song, totally soaked in it, the music and lyrics washing over me, the song in its entirety actually moving me (and by moving me, I don't mean head-bobbing to kaindi ponnn ponnn ponnn). And I don't find anything. Yes, I often go back to the oldies, but a nice new surprise every now and then would be so nice, wouldn't it? Especially one that has no video associated with it in your head yet, just the song itself and nothing else.

So I was writing this chapter explaining electromagnets to 10-year-olds when I realised that I needed some music to cheer me up (electromagnets get depressing after exactly half an hour). And I don't know why, but I went to check out new movie albums, something I hadn't done in a while. Boy, am I glad I did. I saw the poster of Aashiqui 2, and said to myself - why not? As the first strains of the first song 'Tum hi ho' filled the room, I sat up. Electromagnets be damned, this was an actual good song. Holy cow. Imagine my total shock when the next song 'Sun raha hai' turned out to be even more mind-blowing. Was this possible? Two good songs in one movie? A movie following the pathetic trend of unrelated sequels? Surely this was a practical joke? A very cruel one at that. Maybe the file names were wrong? So I googled 'Aashiqui 2' music review. And it turns out I'm not the only one who loves the songs. Of course, I am aware that I could be over-gushing as a result of the 'Bhikhari ko bheek, jo bhi miley theek' syndrome, but I have to say I have not played an album on loop all day for a very very long time now. And I did that today. Almost all the songs are great, and I won't nitpick too much on minor details (e.g. some songs sound too Pritam-ish and I hope they are not lifted off Korean tunes, and the inconsistent use of pronouns - 'Hum tere bin ab reh nahin sakte, tere bina kya wajood mera', and the song 'Hum mar jayenge' which is quite meh. And oh, I just can't my head around 'Apne karam ki kar adaayein'. Something doesn't seem right. It should be 'ataayein', shouldn't it?).

The truth is - I felt good listening to Bollywood music. Real good. After a very long time. (I even went and checked out the movie's trailer. Vidya Balan's devarji looks promising, but I'm not too sure about Shakti Kapoor's daughter. She might be all right; I figure I just can't get the 'auuu' out of my mind. Might do an SSSK post on the movie at some point.)

It's a bit hard to describe what the songs did to me. The closest would be the kind of feeling songs like 'Is tarah aashiqui ka asar' or 'Pehla nasha' or 'Tere dar par sanam chale aaye' did to us in our teenage years. Now they may make us shake our collective heads and laugh, but back then, those songs made us feel something. They enveloped us. Made us more alive. Filled our hearts with something that we did not realise would probably never come back to us when we were older.

So there. There is still hope in the world. All is not lost. If you want some of the sunshine I soaked in today, click here now.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The warrior princess diaries - XI

My last post in the warrior princess diaries series was last year! To catch up, I have compiled the last three months of Xena's antics in this one.

Let me start with a video from early January, where she shows off her Nemo-drawing prowess!

Over the last few months, have been telling me that she's now starting to look more like me. Yahooo! But I wonder if it's because her hair has gotten more and more junglee... Oh, did I mention that I have been asked at least three times by complete strangers, "Your baby has such nice curls! Are they natural?" HUH?! No, I took my baby to a salon and got a colour+perm.

Anyway, junglee hair aside, she still has a lot of Viv's virgo traits even though she's not one. For example, she is very particular that the windows be closed when it rains heavily. Check this out.

She had a vocabulary explosion in the last few months. She attempts to say long words, and the results are hilarious. I actually miss the way she used to mispronounce some words, and Viv and I actually pronounce them the way she does. E.g. lubbindand (rubber band), codykyle (crocodile), tammyter (thermometer), mycocove (microwave), afantant (elephant) and coolinform (school uniform).

Cliched as it may sound, it is indeed amazing to see the world through a kid's eyes. Like the time she pointed to a tree and loudly exclaimed, "BLOCCOLI!!" Or how she thinks it's perfectly normal to try and high-five a cat. I kid you not. She actually walked up to a cat, fearlessly looked it in the eye, raised her hand and said, "High five?" We pass by a bird shop on the way back from her school, and every time, she exclaims, "Parrot! Hug parrot!" She has never once hugged any of her soft toys (including a parrot) but she wants to hug live animals. Great.

Then there was the time she questioned the lack of eyebrows on a fish. Seriously. She handed me her drawing board and asked me to draw Nemo. I drew it and pointed out its various body parts to her - eyes, mouth, fins, tail, etc. She looked at it for a while and then asked, "Eyeblouse??"

I am still keeping her totally away from TV and maximising one-to-one interactions with her. She is off to school in the morning and I use that time to catch up on my freelance writing deadlines. In the afternoon, we read books, play with blocks, make random things with play doh and have lately started on some fingerpainting too! Recently, she had a project at school (yes, apparently 2-year-olds also have school projects!) to make a crab using anything and with some help from google and mommy, this is what she came up with. 'Hand'-made by Xena.

I think I get too excited about her projects and toys than she does. I'm also getting good at this play doh stuff. Check out my Angry Birds!

I'm also trying to get her to be more independent, such as letting her take her shoes and diapers off, and making sure she cleans up after playing. She knows she can only go out in the evening (we alternate between going to the beach and the playground in the evenings) if she has cleaned up after playing. She even says "Tablap!" as she cleans. Tablap being 'tidy up'. Oh, the other day, she pointed to the mess on my drawing table and commanded, "Tablap!"

In January, we went on a short vacation to Phuket. We chose Mai Khao beach, far away from the crowds, and it was heavenly.

For Chinese New Year, I had bought her a traditional cheongsam which she wore to school. To our surprise, her teacher was wearing the exact same pattern, in an adult size!

Speaking of outfits, I have dusted my very old sewing machine and started a bit of sewing. And who better than Xena to be my guinea pig. I had zero confidence about sewing anything for her so I started off slow. We don't use bolsters so I always have new bolster cases that are just lying around. So I took one of them, cut it in half and made two dresses for her! The response from family and friends has been good so I might actually buy fabric and make something with it.

School is going great, and she is having fun. Wednesdays are her favourite because it's water play day and she gets to "pla-pla" ("splash splash") to her heart's content. Even her teachers say that the moment they take her swimsuit out of her bag, she exclaims, "Pla-pla!!!" The school takes photos of all daily activities and uploads them for parents to see.

On 7th March, they had sports day at school! Her class was asked to scoop water in a mug from a tub kept at one end of the field, run to the other end and empty it into the tub kept there. She was having so much fun pouring the water out, she poured it out three times midway, and almost splashed the parents at one point. It was great fun. Of course, they didn't take my suggestion of putting some food at the start line, otherwise she'd have won all the races.

Her teachers have taught her how to make the "happy face" and now she does it on demand (see below).

They are also very patient in trying to feed her because I have told them that that is the most important reason why we have enrolled her in school -- to make eat. They write me a daily note on what she ate and what she rejected. Her Mandarin teacher who speaks only a little English told me, "She no chew!" The main issue aside, I think it's a great Chinese nickname for her - She No Chew! What do you think?

I think school has definitely helped her eating. She still doesn't eat much or willingly, but she does take some interest in having a few grains of rice or a few strands of noodles, and a teaspoon of her current favourite -- aloo bhujia! I'm waiting to see the day when she willingly eats normal portions, and climbs up the height and weight chart. She is still below the 3rd percentile for weight, and painfully reminds me of it at times. Such as last week, when we were out shirt-shopping for Viv. She peeled off a sticker from a stack of T-shirts and stuck it on herself. And guess what the sticker said? It said, very accurately, 'XXS'.

During one of our beach walks, we spotted a sleeping cat. As usual, she wanted to hug and high-five it. I told her, "The cat is sleeping, baby. Don't disturb it." She repeated, "Don dittub." and we moved on. On the way back, we saw the cat again and it was now wide awake. Xena looked up at me and asked, "Dittub?" I didn't know what to say except laugh. She makes me laugh a lot. Like the time she was watching me eat lunch. As I ate the last spoonful, she peered into my bowl and asked, "Fingdish?" Then she clapped her hands and said, "Good baby!"

Well, now she has graduated from referring to every human being as "baby". She can now tell who's a baby (can't walk), who's a boy or a girl (can walk and talk), and who's a grown-up ("uncle" or "aunty", depending solely on length of hair I believe). Once, she saw a lady with very short hair, pointed straight to her and loudly said, "UNCLE! AUNTY?? UNCLE?? UNCLE!!!" *mommyfacepalm*

Well, this was not the first time I had a *mommyfacepalm* moment. At home, I involve her when I fold washed laundry, and have along the way taught her the names of different kinds of clothes. When we were in Phuket, she saw this lady stepping out of the sea wearing a bikini, pointed straight at her chest and loudly exclaimed, "BRAAAAA!"

And it continues. We were at the road crossing yesterday and I was giving her a refresher on the red man, green man and the flashing green man. We had crossed half-way (along with other people) when she looked up, saw the flashing green man, pointed and yelled at the top of her voice, "FLASHING UNCLE!!!!" *mommyfacepalmagain* Let there be no flashing uncles on the roads, please! :O

I'll end with this video, as it's one of her latest. She's pointing out, "Dhoop aa gayi!" and that it's time for mommy to perform her daily shadow play.