Why Aarfa is a Winner in Sultan

There’s a thin line between ‘woman empowerment’ and blindly writing off a woman for making a choice that’s not ‘ambitious’ enough. I think that’s where the Firstpost blog on
Sultan gets it wrong, in context of Aarfa.

While Anushka’s character, Aarfa, steps down from a competition to be a mother – it’s a choice she makes. It’s a sacrifice she makes not just for her husband but also weighing what she wants in life.
She has achieved, she has won and now she wants to be a mother. What’s wrong in that?
Writing off a character like that to be sexist is a hugely disparaging statement to thousands of women across India who would do that any day! But what’s empowering about Aarfa is that she doesn’t give up being a “sportsperson”, continues to train and continues to teach.
Being a feminist myself (and feminism is equal rights) I would have reacted to something sexist very strongly, but for me, Aarfa is a winner. She knows exactly what she is doing and where she is life. She is not docile or coy or dominated. She tells her husband on the face that she made a sacrifice and demands him to make one for their sake. She’s outspoken, not defeated and woman who lives by her terms and has the courage to hold her ground and dismiss the man she loves when he’s wrong. And that does take courage.
Sultan by himself maybe sexist. The way he takes her sacrifice for granted, the way he becomes arrogant, the way he forgets his people. But the film in no way endorses it. On the contrary, the film answers to the sexism with Aarfa’s perspective and actions. 
Let’s face it … that’s how we are in love.
All those who have been in love, sometime or the other know. All those in marriages or relationships know it. Sometimes, you want to put the wishes of the one you love ahead of yourself. And so the best relationships are those where both the partners make that ‘equal’ contribution.
And so, if at a point a woman wants to be mom, what’s wrong? How can we look down upon something like that? that’s like going anti-family, anti-men and making another set of rules for women – where she doesn’t even have the right to make her own personal choices! That’s the problem of our society… we judge the woman. Always! No matter what she does.
Some times when we move on in life, our dreams change. Yes, it’s difficult sometimes to accept that what you wanted yesterday… you don’t want today… even after chasing it with all your might! It’s coming of age that’s important and so it can be hard sometimes to accept the truth. For me, Aarfa is wise enough to know.Ranbir-Kapoor-in-Yeh-Jawaani-Hai-Deewani-480x640
When Ranbir’s character in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani decides to give up his dream job to be with the girl he loves, we applaud his journey. But when a woman decides to step down to be a mother, we write her off as “weak” or “dominated” or “Stereotypes”. How unfair we are!
I won’t say Sultan is a brilliant film and I won’t say I endorse Salman’s idiocy. But, I won’t take away from the film what it has right.
I love how Anushka isn’t a broken person, I love how the intent of the film is to show the transformation of the protagonist’s heart, I love how they fight the battle “within”, I love how she says:
“We are sportsperson. We don’t give up.” I love how both of them come back to action after their journey as individuals.
For me Sultan is a feel good film, an Aarfa is certainly beautiful!

Anushka does 100% justice to character. (And she’s just as old as me :/ Damn 😀 🙂 ) Rooting for her, watch it for her!aarfa

Do Not Fall in Love with Such a Man

Don’t fall in love with a guy who kisses you on the forehead. Do not fall in love with a guy who inspires you to be more than who you are.

Who tells you on your face that you are wrong but still continues to love you. Don’t fall in love with a guy who will answer your call even at 12 in the night and make sure that you are okay.

Do not fall in love with a guy who simply accepts your life, friends and friendships and never questions you on them. Do not fall in love with a guy who can be Romeo and come down just to see you and nothing else. Do not fall in love with a guy with whom you CAN have long conversations – that are non romantic. Do not fall in love with a guy who listens and who shares his dreams with you and seeks your opinion on matters that concern him. Do not fall in love with a guy who is transparent.

Don’t even think of falling in love with a guy who lets you hold his hand and also holds yours and walks forward, as he realizes his and you realize your dreams…. because when you fall in love with a man of such character, irrespective of whether he stays in love with you or not, irrespective of whether life takes you apart or not, you will never come back and be the same. You will struggle to be completely and entirely independent because his love will have changed you.  Either you keep him forever, or do not fall in love with such a man at all.

~ Apsara Iyengar

Inspired from Martha Rivera-Garrido – http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/3246253-don-t-fall-in-love-with-a-woman-who-reads-a – Do not fall in love with a woman


Do Not Fall in Love with a Man - Apsara Iyengar


4 Things About Girls and Guys and a Little Realization

Really wanted to type this out yesterday afternoon; doing it before the moment completely disappears. #GirlsAndGuys

I was working with a few teenagers yesterday, the mid teens. Confident, expressive; the girl has the same naive, optimistic enthusiasm as I did as a young girl. The guys are silent, they have the smirk; typically boyish. They all speak when asked, they communicate, they all come forward and express.

conversations with the 'younger' mind
conversations with the ‘younger’ mind

On one question, the girl answers. I can almost hear myself speaking.
I resist getting carried away and ask the boys, “That’s how a girl would think. I have been working for so long, but I still hear the guys comment on my thoughts and drive it home that – ladkiyan aise he hoti hai (girls are just like that) I want to know your thoughts.” The guys dint seem to take my word too seriously, the girl related and said “yes! I so agree! :D”
The guy spoke, sharing his thoughts. And then the other added.

I realized a few things yesterday..

Girls believe. I guess it’s just there in our basic set up! We’re naive, we’re optimistic, we’re hopeful. And we aspire and we make our aspirations true. That’s how we achieve whatever we achieve. That’s the way we succeed.

We might never really know the world in its harsh terms; because we don’t look at it like that. We look at it believing that it’s beautiful, and, what is not right, can be fixed; and we attempt and make our journey.

Boys have a more practical approach. They don’t show too much emotion. They want to make a difference too, but they’d try to understand what people would respond to. They will try to understand ‘what’ the path ahead could be like and based on their own understanding, they will take their steps. They look beyond; they predict the hurdles and then walk. They aspire and they succeed; on the way they look at life.

To a large extent, we are who we were in our teenage. The core remains.
I didn’t feel much different from the people they were. I am a good number of years older, but I could relate. I could recollect my days and see that I was indeed, one of them. I was just like the girl. I had just the same equation with the people around me.

I perhaps, should NOT have made the comment on ‘Girls and Guys’; because what I saw there was something very obvious and precious too.

There was no discrimination.
Yes, I did make that comment. But I looked at them and realized I was wrong.

Men and women are different but they do share an honest relationship and a harmonious co-existence. It is there. I just loved the vibes I got from the teenagers. They accept each other.

More importantly, they respect each other.

It’s there in the upbringing; it’s there in the schooling, it’s there in the culture.

The elders in the room hand me my cup of tea.
I am sipping it as I hear them speak some more.

I am thinking how thankful I feel to them, for bringing me back to myself; in some ways.

One day, many years back, I graduated from school and stepped into the ‘world’ being an individual like them. One day, many years back, I was a person of these realities. One day, many years ago, I accepted myself the way I am and only strived to be better.

I had never faced discrimination.
But as an adult, I feel differently. I work in various circles owing to the ‘multiple areas of work’ that I indulge in.

I find myself, many a times, amongst men, who look at women ‘just as women’.

I used to cringe, I used to argue, but I was quickly labeled as “woman empowerment leader”.

Then I began to accept them, THIS discrimination as it is.

In accepting discrimination, I have accepted ‘them’, but become distant from myself.

Because there are two schools of thought:
One that looks at individuals and the other that looks at ‘men and women’.

If I accept the ‘men and women’ ideology, any woman will always be a misfit.
What is needed is not a focus on ‘women’, but a focus on individuality.

For the past few months, I have felt suffocated; and only my work has kept me going.
For weeks I think this thought has nagged me. But I wasn’t able to figure out, until I met the young adults yesterday.

If it wasn’t for close friends, my business partner and the theatre that I love, I think I wouldn’t have remained sane. And please note; I never discussed this with them. They kept me sane through conversations and connections that were beyond these thoughts, beyond this discrimination.

It never happened to me before, but then, ‘never’ always has a beginning.
For weeks I have heard women being humored, I have myself been termed ‘dumb’ for speaking up on things that matter to me or for sharing my interests, I have been labeled ‘blocked’ when I have had a different set of opinions than those proposed to me.

And I have constantly felt suffocated – for the very fact that I was NOT blocked to these ‘suggestions’. I was open to them. And being so ‘reachable’ has only made me more vulnerable to hurt and abuse.

As I sip the cup of tea, I say, “Criticism is fine. But only as long as it is constructive.”
And everyone in the room looks at me, wondering what I’d just said.
I just smile and add a few sentences to make my statement seem coherent. I get up to leave and profusely let the kids know that I enjoyed interacting with them.

As I reach my car, I see a text on my phone.
The previous night I had opened up to a friend about the way I was feeling; a series of mixed experiences and emotions. This morning, she added an after – thought to our conversation. She said:
You can NOT allow this. Because the more you let it happen to you, the more you will de-value yourself.  Disrespect cannot have consent.

I reverse the car and start driving back home. Disrespect cannot have consent.

I wonder when I began to need such words to heal disillusionment. Something tugs at the cords of my heart; sometimes we silence ourselves for the relationships we value. But are they worth it at the cost of our self-esteem? But I take a breath of relief in realizing I still have the sixteen year old alive in me. And a sign of relief, that I can still write. So what if this is the first ‘real’ post since December :p So what if it’s taken me 7 months to be able to write? So what if some time has passed?  I still hope to make it. And I will revive that naïve, and innocent enthusiasm to do so.

..when gender doesn't come in the way of smiles
..when gender doesn’t come in the way of smiles

Sharing here, a picture with my friends from a group trip we did a while ago. They would perhaps kill me for sharing such a picture where we all look crazy 😀 but… I think the emotion is significant. 

So… if you’re reading this post, and if you liked what you’ve read here, please get in touch 🙂

Drop a comment or send me a mail or connect with me on twitter or facebook. I will feel encouraged and much more alive.

Thank you for reading,
With love and wishes for healing anything that plunges at the cords of your heart,

Crime against Women – Introspection Part 1

So does this mean, only in case of mass violence, we are moved or affected? When it’s a group of people being attacked, somehow we find strength to unite. But, if an individual is victimized, we stand and watch?

I was discussing Newtown with Mom this morning, and I said “Would people in India defend and protect like they did? Would our people be moved just as much?” And mom said, “Of course. In that moment, I am sure, we’d think of nothing else, but to protect the children. We wouldn’t think of living or dying.”

But I am so disturbed by the incidents we hear of, here in India. The Guwahati molestation, mumbai daylight killings and now the Delhi gangrape on the bus..

Where does humanity go in such cases? how can people just watch?
And in a bus? …. really.. like in a bus? And the perpetrators have not been identified.. do u mean to say, the rest of the people in the bus traveled comfortably all the way to wherever they were going?(Later revealed the bus had ONLY the rapists.) 

I just wish we would all understand that tolerating such crime is a crime in itself.
No girl, no matter how she dresses or where she goes – deserves such a fate. No human being deserves to be tortured like this.

Who gives them the freedom to walk scot free?
Why is the legislature so weak that people think “it’s OKAY” and “We can get away with crime”? ….WHY.

I don’t care about anything else in our nation (and am up for serious reprimand for saying this.) except that the law and order HAS to be put into place. Perpetrators HAVE to be caught. FEAR of BEING CRIMINALS should be set in. People seem to “pride” in over powering the woman, being criminals – it’s becoming a “path to take”. Is that what our society is becoming? How can we be so tolerant. HOW…

It’s seems like it’s better to take a gun or a knife and go around killing these people that actually being good people. And you know what? I bet – if the woman of this nation start doing that – people will start advocating”HOW” women should behave. I am sure leaders of morality will stand up in seconds, but now – in this moment – we’re just spectators. None of us doing anything. And, it’s shameful. Let’s at least just KNOW that THIS is shameful. We should be ashamed that we’re letting this happen to our women.

If the victim has a knife on her and she killed every man who tried to touch her, i am sure people would have filed a case on her. Eye witnesses woould have spoken, people would have “talked” BECAUSE it’s OKAY to speak about the this woman because she’s not a bad human being, right? She’s not going to charge after them. She was just defending herself – so, it’s okay to speak up against her.
I am sure, SHE would have been tried in court while her perpetrators would have mourners.
No such heroism would ever be celebrated. …. or maybe I’m just being pessimistic. The first negative thought on Half A Cup of Tea.

I am so angered and so hurt. In the past ten years, growing up, I have only seen more and more of these crimes and we’re only becoming “tolerant”.

Wake up people, wake up. Wake up!!!!
We’ve gone from movies like Halla Bol – where rape was being faught to movies like Rowdy Rathore, where rape is treated so casually.

I really, earnestly, wish to voice out – RAPE is NOT a joke. Violating a woman is NOT something that should be acccepted or entertained. I really feel it’s the highest degree of violence, it can NOT be accepted.

Ideally I see two ways from here:

That’s the only thing I can see right now!
We’re becoming more and more tolerant with each day.

Yesterday, my friend and I were on a bike and a rickshaw driver, drunk in the dry state, drove so rash that he almost drove us over. I shrieked in relex “ What are you doing?” in Gujarati and that was all I said. He stopped his rickshaw in such tremedous anger, the way he looked at us he said, “How dare you speak to me like this?”

He went ahead and we drove slowly. My girl-friend said, “Aps don’t get involved with such people.” And I said, “Babes! It was reflex! He almost  pushed us over.” We both were moved.
And then we observed that the rickshaw driver was moving really slowly.

He wanted us to overtake him, so that he could fight and abuse us. My friend and I decided to stop the vehicle and let him go by. We din’t want to get into a situation. We let him pass.

He waited briefly and then left.
We went our way, but the incident just struck me.

Is it the male ego? Is it the urge to feel superior? What is it?
What is it that makes these men think like this?

Write in – in the comments below and help me understand!
I seriously think we all need to ask these questions.

Also, let me clarify, I am NOT anti-men – I am anti-crime-against-women.
Also, this is not done yet. Part II coming soon.
Every woman in this country, sometime in life, has faced abuse. We just don’t come out with it.

How many cases will we report?

Everyone of us has been either molested, eve-teased, or put in a terribly dreadful situation and this is something only a woman will know.
If you are a woman and you want to voice out a story, write to me on apsara.iyengar@gmail.com and we’ll try to do something about this. Let’s brainstorm on trying to fix this nation. Is there a way? Is there hope? I want to try. I just can’t sit there thinking it’s all okay and someone else will save us.

p.s. I got the above picture from this blog:

An interesting read. Says –

“As long as we allow government to be the only protector sentences like “she was asking for it” or the ever so funny “Don’t go out after dark” will be heard. Honestly, if we aren’t allowed to rely on anything other than the police, who will only show up after the fact, what else is there to say?

But if we play with the thought that many women carries a gun, the same sentences can instead be laid upon the rapist. ‘That guy really was asking for it. Trying to rape a woman with a gun. Pfffff… what a smuck!’ ” [ Link to the post]

Satyamev Jayate – A Story Of A Patient From Baroda Hospital

I wrote this post way back in September – almost 9 months back. Never posted it because I didn’t think people would be interested to read, that it would be received properly, that it would be okay for me to speak up…… but today, SatyaMev Jayate has encouraged me to share this story.  A patient from Baroda, and an observer in me; here goes:

 18th September, 2011

 I am an optimist. I may be sad or low or I may just start crying… but I am an optimist at heart.

 When I walk into an office, my first instance is to believe that I am in a noble place. That the people there are sincere. That the work they do is honest. That they wish to do well and do just.

 But something really moved me yesterday.

 It all started last week.

 A friend sent me a text that his mother is in the government hospital, admitted to the ICU because of a high diabetic condition. I decided to pay a visit and offer to help.  I just had the regular “Hey bud! Lemme know if you need anything!” and the “Hey Mate! Don’t worry… all will be fine.” – Dialogues ready in my head.  But when I stepped in there, I just couldn’t leave.

 This was the government hospital of Baroda – the place where people from all over Gujarat come for treatment. There are patients from far of districts and even other states like Rajasthan; who come here with faith to be cured.

My first feeling was optimism.

 We take my friend’s mom to the first ward.  The doctor looks at the swollen foot and says, “Take her to the other department. This is a case of diabetes being severe. Control that first, and then come here.

We rush her to the other ward, and there the authorities tell us “the wound is severed. The swelling is critical. First aid is required. The leg has to be dealt with first, before we look begin with treatment for diabetes.

 My otherwise troublesome friend is rather quiet and I step in, “they have just sent us here. So, it would be really nice if you could confirm where we are to go”. My friend rushes to the other surgical department, to the doctor to bring him to this department so that treatment can begin soon.  The doctor comes, comments “well!! I sent her here because it was your case of diabetes … but if you are not taking her, we will start our procedures. She anyway has to be admitted.”


My instinct is disturbed by the lack of coordination.


But then I watch as the doctors sending us to the ward; the interns scolding my friend for not getting the syringe in time ( ; ) ), the doctors doing the rounds and I helping in the tests – I feel  like appreciating the work.  I feel overwhelmed thinking of how they are working in this set up; treating the underprivileged, giving their whole to so many patients.

 After spending the weekend there, I return home thinking- yes! The system may be flawed, but it still isn’t all shallow and hollow. There are people working for humanity. There are people doing their job really well. There are people who are passionate and care. I felt good about the treatment meted to my friend’s mother.

 However, my happiness was soon to be tainted.

 The following day, I was discussing the case with a colleague. I had previously done some social work in terms of copy writing, for his Grandfather’s trust. He brought to my notice that since the trust operated close to the Hospital, and since my friend’s mom was in the same hospital, I should refer the case to them at least once before the surgery that was scheduled in the afternoon.

 Well! It made sense. No harm in getting one more perspective on the case. I reached the hospital with agenda but to be greeted by my friend, in tone of happiness. “Apsara!! All is fine now! Mom is being discharged.”

 I am pleasantly surprised and credit all the ‘good news’ to the positive colors that I am wearing : )

 We walk down to pay the bills. On the way, I look at the trust office and suggest having a word them. Since everything was good now, we could just tell the people at the trust that all is fine. My colleague has after all, taken the trouble to connect us.

  However, from that point onwards, everything changed.

 The NGO people meet us with great warmth and positivity and my colleague’s grandfather volunteers with all the energy to look into the subject and to meet the doctors with us. He comes with us.

 He says, “Oh! Let’s meet the doctors if your mother is being discharged.

He walks straight in and asks about details.

 Apparently, the diabetic department that had given us “discharge on request” (despite us never making any such request) and the authority explains that they had to do this because they could not treat my friend’s mother for the ailment. It was the job of another department.

 The intern explains, “The lady was brought in a critical condition. We presumed that the swelling was because of a tissue infection. And the infection would have affected the bone. But; the swelling in the tissues occurred only in 2 – 3 days; which means that the bone could not have been infected by the tissue infection. For a bone to be infected, the condition has to be longer; for instance, in terms of months. So the fact is that the bone was initially infected and this infection spread to the tissues. Our department doesn’t deal with bone problems. The bone infection has to be cured by the orthopedic department and it must because that’s what has transferred contagion to the tissues.”

 So if there is a bone infection, why was she being discharged with a mere mention that there has to be regular dressing of the foot?

 And the answer is: THAT is not our work.

 The doctor explains, “The orthopedic department was not taking her. What can we do about it? So, our work is to deal with tissues. If they don’t admit her for a bone treatment, we have no option but to send her home and that’s what we were doing.

 My colleague’s grandfather, looks at us and says, “Don’t discharge her today. Stay a day. We’ll look into it and talk to the highest authorities.

 He takes us straight to the senior doctors and explains the case.

 Within 10 minutes, we are back in a ward and the 4 doctors are here to see her.

(The reason is the NGO. The NGO is renowned for its good work. So, when they are associated with a case, they manage to get answers.)

 The doctor inspects the foot, confirms that my friend’s mother has to be shifted to the orthopedic department and the procedures begin in few minutes.

 I just stand there spell bound.

 I help in the processes and running about. I help in the shifting.

But deep within, I am terribly disturbed.

 Today, we were on the verge of committing a big mistake. We were taking my friend’s mom home with an almost fatal infection. We were going to quietly bring her for a dressing the foot – every day for perhaps a month- so that her open wound could heal (the incision that was made to inspect and clear the region with the swelling. And for records, the swelling has only partially subsided, and the foot looks far from normal).

 We were going to go home smiling, thinking that she was being discharged because thing were fine. Not knowing, that it was because there was no one to check and sign her papers.


 I had wondered last week, why I was there…. At the hospital… when I should actually be studying or working or doing something of personal importance… and yesterday I realized WHY.

It was so that I could open my eyes and see the world, not through tainted glasses.

 We, the educated, were going to fall prey to negligence, then what would be the case of the under privileged? The poor? The uneducated?

 I still feel, the doctors are doing a great job out there. Working hard day in and day out. Treating patients and healing them. But what disturbs me is the thin line between “work” and responsibility.

 There were professional’s out there, who were willing to let a patient suffer because it wasn’t a matter of their department.  Knowing well, that the condition could worsen, that it could lead to a critical amputation or extreme condition of the infection spreading in the entire body…. Knowing… that….. Sending this patient home is not the right thing to do…. They knew it…. But they were still about to go through with it.

 I never really wanted to be a doctor. And now I think, with the idealist that I am, I’d have suffered more if seniors around me were dealing with patients like this.The hope, however, lies in the hands of the young minds that are sincere and the experienced professionals from the field who are role models.

 I can understand the Munna Bhai MBBS dialogue, “Ek doctor ke liye ek mariz ek bimar sharer hai. Bus.” But… at the end of the day, that ill body is a human being.

I can understand them being un-moved by illnesses, by ailments, by these critical conditions. What I cannot understand is how they can be indifferent.

 I cannot understand how we can go to bed knowing that somebody is suffering before our eyes, and that we could do what was required to treat them.  This diabetic department/ surgical department may not be responsible for the procedure of curing……. But they could bring forth the case to the ortho-department.  

 The patient’s relatives on the other hand, suffer not just trauma but also confusion. They have to file papers, transfer papers, sign documents, get medicines, shift the patient themselves form one ward to the other and above all, remaining in the dark about what exactly is happening.  


The first thought that came to my mind was that, I am an Indian.

I have lived in this India.

I have walked the dirty streets, I have worked in dingy buildings and I have seen the sarkari daftar (slow working offices). I am still tolerant when it comes to postal, police and railway procedures … but this is a HOSPITAL. And this is a matter of life and death.  We just cannot be tolerant here.

 If you have managed to read this article and reach till this point, then here are two things:

  1. Pray for my friend’s mom : ) She’s still needs are good wishes and still needs to be treated for the bone condition
  2. Don’t be *starry* eyed and believe everything around you. Ask questions, be alert and HELP where you can. Perhaps you could help someone in pain and in need. It needs only an educated mind.        Please share this post.

 For now, I am too un-rich to be able to help this NGO in spreading the light, but when I can, I shall.  Until then, I am going to make posts like this, volunteer with time and spread the word.

 You can do the same and perhaps help someone in need.

 I guess the positive colors did work after all 😉 we met the Hari Om Seva Trust. And God bless them for the wonderful social service they are doing.


As Of Today: 26th May 2012

The Trust [Link to their Facebook Pagesharing the name and link on request]still operates in Baroda helping thousands of under privileged patients with subsidized health care medications and the correct information about their ailments.They host camps, educate and do a lot of voluntary service and have been recognized internationally.

My friend’s mom – finally underwent an amputation. The amputation was needed to avoid the infection from spreading. She walks with a Jaipur/false foot now and is fine.

 As for me, I am still *starry eyed*, yet wiser; have many questions [While at it, you can Like the blog page here: Half A Cup Of Tea. Please do!] I am still moved by instances and this is but, one story. If there’s anything you need me to help with, please feel free to get in touch.

 Inspired by cause addressed by Staya Mev Jayte – even if the series is making a lot of money, targeted for TRP, it’s still getting us to talk about subjects. Their success is justified, in the same way, as I bring out this post and justify sharing something like this without facing the wrath of society and “higher authorities”.

 Satya Mev Jayate – it’s the truth after all, why fear?


They finally killed JESSICA.

As I sipped my cup of tea, I read the news paper. And a silent discussion ensued between the article and myself.

When Jessica was murdered, I was a school kid in Delhi. I watched the story on the News. I saw the pictures. I saw how the assassin walked out free. I wasn’t old enough to comprehend much, but something about it registered very strongly. A life finished-off at the hands of some person with a bad temper and a gun in his hand.

Years later, when I am older , I see the Justice happening. 10 years later. I see people protesting , I see a movement, I see a lot of hard work, strength , grit , and courage.
Moved ; in a college debate, I discuss Gandhigiri in this day and age. It isn’t about taking another blow. It is about winning over evil without resorting to wrong means. Modifying the Gandhian principles to stand against the wrong today, I sited how Media Activisim had brought the Jessica lal and Priyadarshini Mattoo cases to a closure.
It was purely the power of togetherness. A united call questioning the judiciary responsible for our security. When people marched out with candles, when they demanded justice, when they asked questions and expected answers; when the MEDIA was ONE with the people and when in the true spirit , the nation was democratic.
Death and rape are too absolute. For murder of life and murder of soul, no price paid is even.

The Jessica Lal murder case reached an end not because some egoistic journalist decided to drive a movement for personal gratification or weak sibling who gave up the battle abruptly; as shown in the movie. Contrarily, the case reached a closure because somehow, the people who fought, didn’t give up. It is because of unshaken determination and unshaken courage to fight.
Having lost her sister and her mother , with her father hospitalised, you can sense how tough it might have been for Sabrina Lall , sister of the deceased Jessica. In the movie,it is the part where the journalist walks in and shouts “ Sabrina this is about Jessica. Not about you” , is where I cringed.
Why does the movie fail to show that had Sabrina given up 10 years back, or any time mid way, the so-called-jouralist-hero in the movie would not have got her story.
Sabrina’s failures in getting support are highlighted profoundly, but her fight isn’t. Had she not fought, would this end have been met? The end has been met. Justice has been done. Hence, logically ; an incorrect representation.

And the end has been met because of the first of its kind : Media activism, which brought a whole country together.
Yes, Indian journalism had never before, in “free India”, seen anything like this.
The movie merely states this as a fact, without successfully touching the pulse. It “informs” us about the SMSes that have come in, about the Calls, about protests, but fails yet again to touch the sould of truth. How did the nation empathize? How did it all start? Only because a journalist began screaming about “Justice” and a sudden set of haphazard sting operations?
Those who followed the cases closely like I did, would know. When the court acquitted the doer, it enraged the common man. It’s wasn’t about it being a “high profile” murder case, but it was about the brink of tolerance. It was the anger over all those murders that have happened. It was about trusting our own lives with the indian judicial system. It was about a question on our legal system : how could a murderer, proven guilty before entire nation, walk out scot free.
Perhaps the common man can’t do much for all that is unjust, but at least he could do something. For once, he could come together and demand justice. For once it could make sure that integrity is maintained.
And it was this Media Activism that played a major role in winning over corruption : where witnesses were bought, threatened or killed to save the guilty.

Perhaps I’d just have ignored this movie like the many other badly made movies in Bollywood, had I not read that article over tea.

An article by Georges Mailhot ( Peter from the movie) about the trials that his family and he had to go through for being honest. It brought back the memory of how the court had applauded this family, for sticking to their word, for their courage and how this movie showed then in a totally negative light.
In the article, Mailhot writes about how his wife Bina Ramani, daughter Malini, and himself had retained their statements throughout and how they had been unofficially harassed , all through the years of the trial . From passport seizure to property issues to false framing in cases, they saw it all – only so that Jessica could get justice. Only because they had a clear conscience.
Today they receive hate mails from people who watched the movie.
Why! Our sweet-little-movie-makers had said right in the begining, in BOLD LETTERS , that the movie is based on a true life incident, BUT IS PART FICTION.
Why then do these people believe the representations? And which representation is to be believed and which not; if this is a true story?

Why then do the real wounded have to pay the price for their honesty. Why.

A movie that is made on true life instances cannot afford to stray from truth a look like a poorly-informed-magazine-article taken to tabloid.
The Jessica Lall case, the Mattoo case, they all go far beyond Wikipedia!
Yet, if you read the wiki page for Jessica Lall, you will see that the movie is based entirely on that one page. The characters and their representation however, are on imagination. Wow. Very creative.

Unfortunately I am not a News channel journalist. Nor am I am film maker. Nor am I a professional critique. Hence, my shouting “Cannot” doesn’t make a difference.
I am told not to take this movie seriously because movies are meant merely for entertainment. Real life events that moved a nation are now entertainment.
On the other hand, so many are claiming that such movies are good for educating people. And this Education is superficial.

Still, people who made the movie , will reap in the commercial success and believe they have made history. They will go out there and make more movies based on half truths.
Ignorance will prevail and will be appreciated.
Movies will be made on real issues that reigned high on EQ for entertainment. People will continue to support the movie without being affected by a Manu Sharma being jailed or hanged or walking scot free; as long as they are entertained.
And those who are sensitized, will hold the Ramanis in the same frame as Manu Sharma because the movie committed the sin of showing them in the same light. Of course no one will care to see how wrong the film makers were!
Somewhere down the line… People will watch the movie and like it, not especially because they were touched, but because they didn’t read the newspaper 12 years back and it is “cool” to like a real-life-movie and pretend to be informed.


Resources :
About 80 compiled links of the case : http://www.rediff.com/news/jessica.html  

The MUST reads :

  1. Court lauds Bina Ramani’s courage : http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/dec/18jessica4.htm
  2. The arguments that nailed Manu : http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/dec/18jessica3.htm
  3. It is a victory for all of us: Sabrina Lal : http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/dec/18jessica2.htm

All about being a GIRL and Having the OPTION

The most unnerving context in which I have found myself lately, is the : –  “Oh! It doesn’t really matter for you! Being a girl you have the option” – statement . And to add to that, the “Being a girl, you should…” sermons. I am obliged to write today for the very same reason; I found myself with a bunch of long-lost-friends, and one of them said it again, “Being a girl… I just thought I should ask you that…..”. I tried my best not to react, inspiring myself to write about it instead 😉 So here goes! – In the name of all those monologues , which had us biting our teeth in exasperation! Cheers!

My grandmother visits with all the possible warmth. As I sip my cup of tea, she asks me what I am doing these days. I tell her, “Paati, I am working on my portfolio. I left my full-time job a month back.” “But why!” she asks, in dismay. I say, “Well, I hadn’t really taken a break since my grads… So I am working on self-development so that my career prospects are better”. To which I hear the dreaded words “ But child! Why!! Why are you so concerned about your career?”.

I swallow. Look down. Look up. Well, it would be difficult to explain “why”; because it is about me! I battle my words in my mouth. “Because if I don’t care about my career, who will! Da” I think in my mind, but maintain the decorum of the house, keep silent, and with due respect, nod. She says “Being a girl, you have the option. You should stay on to one (temporary) job that would suit you best. You should learn other household tasks; they are (far) more important.”

I bite my teeth. I keep quiet.

My phone beeps one evening. “Wassup?” he says.

“Hey ! Long time! 4 months I guess? How are you :). We are having a get-together at home, right now. Helping Mom. Catch you later.”, I reply and the conversation ends.

Next morning I receive another text, “ Hi. How was your get-together? What did you cook?” I stare at the text for a second, and then reply, “ umm.. cook? You want yesterday’s menu??? ”, weird I think. Why should someone be interested in what we cooked at home! “NO!” He answers, “I wanted to know what YOU prepared for the party”. And instantly I think many things :

  1. How did he presume I cooked?
  2. How did he presume I WOULD cook for a party?
  3. Why is he interested in my cooking?
  4. A conversation about my cooking, after 4 months of silence?

I quit the debate and simplify the conversation, “umm…..I don’t really cook.”.“YOU DON’T!! oh my God” he retorts, sounding almost half heartbroken. “But how can that be possible! You told me yourself that you were helping your mother! What was that then?” He accuses, as though I were caught guilty in crime. Or, perhaps, almost anxiously, as though he were questioning his boss about him being fired. As I deliberate about which of the two suits his tone of question; a worried conversation follows, from his side, persisting almost the entire day about the virtues of a woman and her responsibilities. And finally, on a bitter note he ends, “I pity your husband whoever he is”. “Why”, I think, considering the fact that I don’t even have one! But I preserve the golden silence, despising another long endless chain of messages. But he, nevertheless, obliges. “If you don’t cook, what will he eat! He’ll starve. My god. A girl should cook. My wife will have to. ”, he concludes. And I switch off the phone. A self-proclaimed hero is better far, than near; even a text-message can be injurious to health because a rising B.P and temper does do much harm, even to a simple human being. Medically proven.

I turn to my work, and continue to work on my “full time job”, ME. I have an appointment with one of the companies I freelance with. In a conversation with the director, “But Apsara, being a girl , you have the option. Marry a guy, rich preferably, and you don’t really have to fret over your career!” I choke over my coffee. “I am not sure I have any such option sir” , I reply; to which I get a reassuring answer “ Don’t worry darling! There is someone out there who will take you”, and I think, am I an object?

An ex-admirer calls me, he wants to meet. I prefer a late night call. I return his call, and the conversation is directed to “Being a girl, I just thought you would want to be my wife and give me children. ” ; and I subconsciously check the statement ; “give me children”.Hmm… do people give children to eachother? like chocolates? perhaps… ,my thoughts interrupted, he says “I don’t want anybody to even think about you. I don’t want anybody to look at you. Forget your theatre dreams. Forget your media ambitions.”; “But you are only interested in your career. That’s the only reason we aren’t together. ” He adds spitefully.

I am 22 years old. Old highlights in many ways , while “young” highlights in other ways.

OLD because people all of a sudden feel I am in a “marriageable” age, or at least that I have entered the threshold. YOUNG because my career is only at the start. My dreams are still, a little away from realisation; and my aspirations can fill a novel. And hence, I like to believe I am young. I like to believe I have time to realise my ambitions and live my passions. I like to simply, believe.

Am sorry, but my dream is not about having children or to cook for my husband. My dream is not marriage. These aren’t my “dreams”. I know in my heart, that a family will happen someday, because I have a lot of love within me to offer to the universe. But where I stand today, I have a loving supporting family and my priorities are different.

Strange, but against the popular notion, “being a girl, you have an option.”, I wonder, do I? Do I really have an option?

For girls like me, who have been raised on moral values of equality, who have been encouraged to dream, who have learnt to believe in themselves, who aspire; how much of an option do we have?

Can I marry a guy who believes I am his property, with the prime function to deliver children for “him”? Can I marry a guy who feels I just have to cook every meal, every day. Can I marry a guy who doesn’t let me work? Can I be with a person who doesn’t believe that I am an individual?

The “options” are far lesser, aren’t they? On the contrary I’d have to look for a man supportive enough , who lets me be me, and respects my free will.

The point is, an individual identity exists for every human being. Why do we, then, live in clichéd social frameworks?

I respect all the beautiful mothers and wives out there, form the bottom of my heart, who are full-time home-makers. But, provided, THAT is what they really wanted to do. Every person has desires within. Something that completes you and adds significance to your being. If that feeling of immense peace comes from raising your family, or loving your husband, alone; then, THAT is the best thing to happen to you.

But if that fire burns for more, then you have a different direction to pursue. Not the path where we pass on our dreams to our children in heritage, for our lack of fulfilment, but a path where you pursue your dreams, Yourself!

A working woman, with an intelligence, emotion and creative quotient thoroughly satisfied can be a great mother and wife.

Why even think of giving up one life?

Besides, in the end, the battle is always yours alone. You face the test alone. And you face the failures and rewards alone. With the give and take of affections and warmth, the journey certainly becomes more enjoyable, but still, it IS only your own.

No one else can live your life for you, then why live your life one terms of others?

A healthy blend of compromises on the receiving and serving end, with a rational approach, is what makes a successful life.

And so there is nothing like “being a girl, you have the option”. And nothing like “Being a girl you should….”

There are too many fences we have drawn around us – for men and women, alike. But why live in them?

Life is a journey, and a Life-partner is someone with whom we can cherish, enjoy and share.  An alter-ego or perhaps someone totally unlike you! Only the visions need blend and support. So, let’s just chill and remember that we all have an identity. And our responsibility is, nothing but, to keep that fire burning; to keep that light glowing with peace and happiness . It’s not about the “options” you have; it is about YOU. And YOU my dear, are the priority 😉 !

There is a world out there that is totally liberated. But this post, is a toast to those of us who celebrate the freedom of thought and action. This post is a toast to all our dreams, all our smiles and all our happy-endings 😉 Cheers!



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