Varun Bhakay’s Writer’s Block

Trapped: Breaks New Ground….A Landmark Film in Hindi Cinema

Phantom Films seem to be making a habit of this….a rather good one, I must say. Each year, this production house puts out a film that breaks new ground, introduces new and engaging concepts. In 2014, their second year in the business, Phantom produced two such films: Queen and Ugly. In 2015, they came out with NH10Hunterr (which showed that a sex comedy need not necessarily be cheap, crass and vulgar) and Masaan. In 2016, it was the drug drama Udta PunjabTrapped is another such film.

The concept is simple. Shaurya is in love with his colleague Noorie, who is about to get married unless they get a place together. He manages to get one after some hassles. The catch: the flat is on one of the top floors of an unoccupied high-rise in Prabhadevi. Whilst on his way to meet Noorie, Shaurya gets locked inside the apartment, the key hanging outside the door. Stuck inside with hardly any food or water and no electricity, Shaurya is forced to improvise. He does a hell of a lot of stuff. He does every imaginable thing except one: give up. In his own words, “Kuch bhi ho jaaye, idhar nahi marna hai.”

The screenplay, penned by Amit Joshi and Hardik Mehta, is the pillar on which this film should stand but ends up needing a stronger push from the actor to straighten up, after which it works just fine. Where it fails is the length. Perhaps a trimming by fifteen-twenty minutes would’ve been good. Where it works is many places. It restricts the romance of Shaurya and Noorie to ten-odd minutes. It’s engaging once the protagonist is trapped. It gives the audience an insider’s view of Shaurya’s frustration, anger, fear and determination. The screenplay taps more into the psychological aspect of things than the physical aspect. The concept is such that you’ll go in thinking you’ve figured out all the plotholes but you haven’t quite, at least not all of them. The music by Alokananda Dasgupta is eerie and haunting, working its way seamlessly into the film. Nitin Baid’s editing is sharp and crisp, though he should have ideally snipped off a bit more of the film. DoP Siddharth Diwan has a tough task and manages it admirably. To restrict your camera angles due to such a small set had to be a daunting task but Diwan carries it out expertly. While the cinematography didn’t make me claustrophobic, it did make me shifty and uncomfortable. The lighting team too have done a fine job of creating a sense of dread in the atmosphere.

Geetanjali Thapa’s cameo is an adequate performance by a talented actress. The film’s biggest pillar is one of the most talented actor among his peers. The man capable of turning out an incredible performance each and every time he appears on screen. Whether it was alongside Aamir Khan, Amit Sadh and Sushant Singh Rajput, or with Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao has always been one heck of an actor. He is Shaurya in this movie. Every frame of his performance is brilliant. He is naive, head over heels in love, scared, and determined. The lack of dialogue doesn’t prevent him from going all out in his performance. He portrays Shaurya with such depth and understanding that you can’t help but hope the guy gets out of that wretched apartment.

Vikramaditya Motwane delivers a film that is daring and unique. The fact that the crew and the cast have operated so smoothly has to be credited to the man behind the monitor. Motwane keeps the film clean, devoid of taam-jhaam. He is in total control of a film where so many things could go wrong but somehow don’t.

There have been films with no songs or no stars. But it is highly unlikely that a film will be what Trapped is. It relies not on an item song, not on cleavages and six-packs, not on locations and not on fandom. It relies on its story, its performer and its crew. Never does it pretend to be more than what it is: a well-made film (Dilwale and Varun Dhawan, I’m looking at you. Dilwale=Inception….really?!). Watch Trapped to get a sense of how Hindi cinema is changing and for Rajkummar’s terrific performance.

Trapped: 4/5

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FLASH!: ‘Marvel’ous Doctor Strange

In a place called Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu, Nepal, the villainous Kaecilius and his henchpeople steal a ritual from a book belonging to The Ancient One and disappear after murdering the librarian. The event shakes up the mystic arts cult.

In faraway New York, highly acclaimed (and exceedingly arrogant) neurosurgeon Doctor (not Mister, mind you!) Stephen Strange meets with a horrific accident. He spends his wealth in numerous experimental procedures, none of which are successful. He loses the support of his former lover Christine Palmer when he refuses to move on and mocks her. He is directed to Kamar-Taj by a paraplegic who claims to have been treated there. Though rejected at first because of his arrogance, the Ancient One ultimately relents and takes him under her wing.

Let me be frank here: I’m not a Marvel fan (DC for life!). It’s just that the films aren’t as cool as the DC ones are (save MoS and BvS). And Captain America is irritating. Like really. And Tony has also started to get on my nerves. This film however, steps away from the madness and hamminess of the Avengers.

Director Scott Derrickson does a good job. Unlike many other superhero movie directors, he doesn’t get carried away. He shows great restrain (especially in the Strange-Palmer scenes), while still allowing the characters to flourish. The screenplay, written by Derrickson, Jon Spaihts, and Robert Cargill, also deserves a lot of credit. Written in a somewhat Inception-like fashion, it also has a lot of Coenesque wit and humour which, unlike other Marvel films, doesn’t go overboard. It also has a fresh superhero story to tell, unlike so many other films of the genre. Ben Davis’ cinematography is truly delightful, making the film what it is: enchanting. Luma Pictures and Industrial Light & Magic pull off a challenging series of visual effects (aided by Charles Wood’s marvellous production design), visually enhancing the film. Michael Giacchino’s beautiful music adds a mysterious element to the film.

Tilda Swinton portrays the Ancient One with boldness and conviction, surpassing her White Witch act from Narnia. Rachel McAdams brings normalcy and a bit of softness to the film with her performance of Christine Palmer. Benedict Wong pulls off Wong without allowing any Western stereotypes about Asians to interfere with his performance. Thankfully, the director didn’t seem to want such stereotypes. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo is an interesting performance, especially towards the end of the film. Ejiofor plays the character in his usual understated manner, making an impact all the same. Mads Mikkelsen, that master of villainy, is powerful as Kaecilius, and has some of the best lines in the film. If there were an Oscar for Best Villain, this film would’ve given Mikkelsen his second of those. Benedict Cumberbatch brings in a lot of his Sherlock-ish characteristics, while still letting the character seem original. He is in top form throughout the film, transforming into Strange and making you believe that he is the character. Cumberbatch is a genius of an actor.

All in all, a film I thoroughly enjoyed. Watch it for everything it has to offer and you will not be disappointed one bit.

Doctor Strange: 4/5

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Image: Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Varun Bhakay’s Writer’s Block (2016)

People are very well aware of what happened in Uri. Eighteen soldiers. Not a small number by any margin. The terrorists were backed by the Pakistani establishment. With me till now?

I’m from that crop of people who believe that Pakistani artistes should leave India. Most of them have already left and won’t be coming back anytime soon. It’s surprising, I suppose, that someone who likes to call himself a writer (to give his ego a push every now and then) backs such a stand. After all, cricket, music, and films, among  other things, don’t have anything to do with terrorism, right? Pretty much.

I’m all for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and Afghans and Martians and people from the entire Universe coming to work in India but not at the cost of our national pride. Wait, what’s that? National pride? Half the people I meet are Maharashtrians, Tamilians, Punjabis before they are Indians. But, I believe I’m digressing from the issue I wish to speak about.

People like Sitaram Yechury, Karan Johar, Mahesh Bhatt, Darkha Butt (or is it Barkha Dutt?), Sallu (or is it Lallu? I’m really confused) have spoken about how art and cultural exchange is above terrorism and that we should continue talking to Pakistan. Pahlaj Nihalani also backed this but he’s of no relevance. Nor are three of the five people mentioned but anyway. Understandable. A lot of people seem to agree with them. I too, to a certain extent, agree with them. I mean, if this had been a US-USSR face-off during the Cold War, it would’ve been totally acceptable. But who the fuck are we? India. Haven’t we always shown the world that we are stalwarts of tolerance? I mean, our intent to deal with Pakistan firmly has been as serious as our will of losing to them at the Cricket World Cup. So, a lot of people perhaps thought we should chill the fuck out. Only, we shouldn’t and we don’t seem to be doing that. The Indian Army conducted a cross-border expedition where they showed Pakistan-backed militants our mehmaan-nawaazi. Such was the mehmaan-nawaazi that we were done with them before they entered Indian territory with their darling GPSs and weapons.

But, pray tell me, can this art-and-culture exchange exist at a critical juncture like this? We are locking horns with a notion called ‘Pakistan’. We might be engaged in a state of conventional war with them in the near future. But, do we not owe our soldiers gratitude in some other form apart from monetary help, Facebook posts, Tweets, WhatsApp forwards? Or are we just a bunch of assholes who become patriotic on two particular days in a year and on the days that soldiers are martyred? Where is our patriotism the rest of the time? Where is our love for our soldiers when Pakistan needs to be dragged to the ICJ for violating the Geneva Convention? Let’s be frank. It is a very finicky idea for us, patriotism. Stays with us for a very small period of time.

Pakistani artistes may be as good as gold. Hell, Fawad Khan is made of gold the way girls drool over him! The guy’s a fine actor. Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. I could go on. Last year, two Indian actors were termed anti-nationals. Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale faced the brunt of his remarks, which weren’t all that off the sweet spot. Shah Rukh tweeted against the Peshwar Attack of December 2014. Shah Rukh tweeted against the Uri Attack of 18th September 2016 and backed our Armed Forces on the day of the surgical strike. Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar were two of the other film stars who commented on the Uri Attacks. But where were the rest? And more importantly, where were the people? We didn’t think twice before condemning Peshawar or Paris but forgot our very own Pathankot. What is wrong with us?! Are we addled?

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has already decided not to play matches against Pakistan. The ICC Champions Trophy, scheduled for 2017, may see a change in schedule. Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP, is the President of the BCCI. Would this have been the stance had the President been a Congress MP? Or an AAP one (laughable as that is)? No. The Opposition and Government are always at loggerheads. Not possible even if roles were reversed, ie: Congress at Centre, BJP in Opposition. But then the chatter began. “What wrong have Pakistani artistes done? Their country is also ravaged by war. Are the artistes terrorists?” A lot of mud-slinging began, courtesy one has-been Bollywood singer who considers it his birthright to open his filthy mouth on every issue. I agree with the fact that Pakistani artistes are not terrorists, they come from a war-zone of a country (if we can call Pakistan one) and that they’ve done no wrong. However, I do consider it weird that not one of them, not Fawad Khan, not Ali Zafar, not Mahira Khan, not Atif Aslam, not Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, not Shafqat Amanat Ali, not one opposed the Uri Attack. After all, our people whole-heartedly supported Pakistan after Peshawar. What stopped all these people who’d earned their bread and butter on our soil to condemn an attack on an Indian Army camp? I sincerely don’t think it was an admission of Pakistan’s involvement in the attack. Their people are in the dark about their establishment’s actions and alliances. A lot of people said that these people weren’t willing to condemn the attack simply because their families would be in danger. Tell me, do we not have ultras in India? Those monkeys who are hardcore radicals in their beliefs regarding religion and nationality? We have our fair share, perhaps a few too many, of those. None of them threatened the famous Indians who condemned the Peshawar attack. They could have, but they didn’t. So what stopped these Pakistanis?

Also, do we not have a moral responsibility to stand by our soldiers? There’s nothing that can be done about Raees and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil‘s release. They had already commenced production before Pathankot and completed production before Uri. Before relations with our padosi had dropped to such a low. No point in banning those films. Fawad and Mahira had valid visas and work permits. Excel, Red Chillies, Fox Star and Dharma couldn’t have seen the attacks coming. The films are ready for release. I am of the opinion that they should release and without any restrictions or violence. Investors will face massive losses if these films are not released. And these investors include a whole bunch of people, not just Karan Johar and Fox. Let them release. Period. But, no Pakistani of any profession can work in India. Why are we just talking about celebrities? Any Pakistani, whatever the nature of their visit to India, should be asked to leave. Even the High Commissioner if needed. Cancel their visas and work permits and send them back. I’ll now back this up. I am a Fauji Brat. My sentimental attachment to the Indian Army is bound to be a factor in what I’ll say but I’m saying it anyway. At this point of time, the quality of weapons and uniforms and rations and living conditions for troops stationed at the LC (Line of Control) is quite poor. This is not confidential information. It is public knowledge. Tomorrow, if there is war, it will come down to these men and so many others to defend our motherland. If their weapons aren’t working, if the rations are terrible, if the uniforms are of no use, they will fall back on something that has a lot to do with the mind: morale. If we say “We are with the soldiers and all but Fawad is hot so he shouldn’t leave”, what will the morale of these soldiers be? Frankly, a large number mayn’t even give a damn about all this and will carry on with their job. Morale plays a major role in war. If this morale is dented, what do we expect our soldiers to do? Should they be as welcoming of Pakistani soldiers as the rest of us are of Pakistani artistes, using the excuse that “They too are simply doing their job”. Will that be acceptable to anyone? No. You’ll be aghast if such a thing happens. Those men have signed up for a highly dangerous job. The least those of us sitting with laptops and smartphones in t-shirts and boxers in the wee hours of morning can do is back them in some way or the other. Getting rid of artistes from across the Radcliffe Line will help raise the morale.

If someone could tell even a single soldier how proud this country is to have a person like them, morale will rise. If our highly-opinionated Bollywood stars can go and spend some time with these brave men (without NDTV, please), morale will rise because, let’s face it, we are very fond of our film stars. If a sportsperson can do the same, that’d be fantastic. Basically, don’t just say you are with the Armed Forces. Do something that makes it seem like you actually are. Write a blog post, a poem, record a video. They ought to know that they aren’t sitting in trenches and bunkers unfit for human inhabitation for a country of 1.25 billion (can we look into that too sometime later?) assholes who don’t give a damn about them. They deserve to know that we genuinely respect them. They deserve to know that it is not only in the event of a natural or manmade calamity that we remember them, those brave men in uniform.

JAI HIND.

Please leave your comments in the section below. Share the post if you liked it. Tell me you disagree with me and we’ll chat about it. Nothing showcases the power of democracy better than people talking about issues, huh? Cheers.

Varun Bhakay’s Writer’s Block (2016)

A Fresh, Interesting Film-MS Dhoni: The Untold Story

Seldom does one see a visionary director like Neeraj Pandey. His scripts are as different from each other as possible and from the usual Bollywood fare-A Wednesday, Special 26 and Baby. Yet, he is no Anurag Kashyap. Nor is he a Bhansali. Nor a Johar. Pandey is, without a doubt, the most technically sound director in Hindi cinema today. He is in a class of his own, much like his subject.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni. A name every cricket fan knows. Easily India’s best wicketkeeper-batsman and one of the country’s finest cricket captains, there is nothing that I can say here about MSD that you won’t know.

The film covers the important parts and personalities in the life of Indian cricket’s limited-overs skipper from his birth in 1981 to the final of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. The interesting part is that much of the film is off the field, but it still manages to be enjoyable, unlike Azhar. It is also very real. There are no caricatures in Neeraj Pandey’s latest outing.

There are a few chinks in the armour of the film, though. Post-interval, you will see once again, like you did in Special 26, the reason why Pandey should steer clear of romance. That the two romantic tracks manage to be engaging is more due to the competence of the actors than anything else. The visual effects, executed by Prime Focus, are shoddy and amateurish for a film of this scale. Prana or Red Chillies would’ve done a far better job. Compositing Rajput’s face on Dhoni’s is done well, but the green screen areas are poorly-done.

The screeplay by Pandey and Dilip Jha is engaging and fast-moving, which is a surprise, given the film’s runtime. It flows smoothly and doesn’t jar, though it could’ve been more fluid during the romantic bits. Sudhir Palsane’s cameras move superbly, capturing the cricket like never before on celluloid. He uses close-ups effectively and utilises hand-held cameras exceedingly well. Pandey sticks to the ‘Untold Story’ and directs marvelously within the framework he sets for the film. He has no intention of covering an enormous amount of cricket. Yet, one is felt wanting for more because of the lack of behind-the-scenes scenarios. The editing is crisp.

Anupam Kher brings Pan Singh to life brilliantly and flourishes as the slightly conflicted Indian dad. The actress playing MSD’s mother is also very good. Bhoomika Chawla is like most didis, supportive and by the younger brother’s side even when the chips are down. The three actors who play Dhoni’s friends and benefactor also leave their mark. Herry Tangri turns up as a snobbish, ultra-cool Yuvraj Singh and does his job well. Kumud Mishra and Rajesh Sharma both do complete justice to their roles. Disha Patani as Dhoni’s late girlfriend Priyanka is decent but Kiara Advani’s Sakshi is a sincerely-performed and rather well-enacted role. The star of the show is, for obvious reasons, Sushant Singh Rajput in the titular role. The effort put in by Rajput is evident as he pretty much nails all of Dhoni’s physical attributes, his way of speaking and most importantly, his cricket. The batting and wicket-keeping have the unmistakable stamp of Dhoniness to them. Rajput deserves a standing ovation for his portrayal of one of India’s most-successful cricket captains.

The film glosses over controversies but it does so intelligently. Azhar tried showing the controversies and failed miserably. The makers had put forth their agenda for the movie much before the release, so don’t go in expecting a lot of dressing room gossip. Plus, controversies are subjective as per a person’s point of view. The film clocks in at a bum-aching 190 minutes but doesn’t seem like a drag, much to Pandey’s credit. Credit is due to the writers for not screwing up the reality in the name of dramatisation, as Prasoon Joshi did for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

Watch the film for the inspiring story of a lad from Ranchi, for Neeraj Pandey’s direction, for some fine performances by the supporting cast, and for Sushant Singh Rajput.

MS Dhoni: The Untold Story: 3.5/5.

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Image: Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

Varun Bhakay’s Writer’s Block (2016)

India, It’s Time To Act!

In memory of the martyrs of the Uri attack.

Never before in the twenty-six years of Kashmir’s insurgency has such a thing happened. Never. While the Kaluchak Massacre had a larger casualty figure, the number of personnel martyred in that attack was smaller. Yesterday morning, around dawn, four terrorists, all part of a fedayeen group from the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit, struck the rear area of an administrative complex near the Headquarters of 12 Infantry Brigade in Uri. They were armed with white phosphorous powder, AK-47s with under-barrel grenade launchers, grenades and a lot of ammunition. They had rations and area maps with them as well. Most of the equipment had Pakistani markings. Temporary shelters housing soldiers went up in flames as a result of the attack. Eighteen soldiers of the Indian Army were martyred in the single largest attack an Army base has seen in Kashmir. Many others were injured. Later in the day, the militants were neutralised.

Enough is enough! We’ve had till here with that terror-sponsoring nation called Pakistan. That country is not willing to mend its ways and it’s time for India, its politicians, bureaucrats and people to know that there can be no more talks with a country that harbours the ilk of Sayeed Salahuddeen, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Maulana Masood Azhar, to name a few. We’ve had Pathankot earlier this year and now Uri. In between, there has been the two month-long unrest in the Vale of Kashmir in response to the killing of militant Burhan Wani. Little of what I say will make any difference but I shall say it nonetheless. It’s time we grew some balls and fought fire with fire. But no, we must be all ahimsavaadi. There will be crazies who, despite the Uri and Pathankot attacks, will say that talks are the only way forward to mend relations between India and Pakistan. The unique relationship we share with that country can be extremely confusing: allow me to put forth a few points in that regard:

  • This is the same country with whose backing tribals invaded Kashmir in October ’47. The tribals received logistical support from Pakistan. The tribals also had Pakistan Army regulars in their ranks.
  • The same Pakistan initiated Operation Gibraltar, which resulted in the War of ’65.
  • The same Pakistan went on a mass-murdering spree in its Eastern wing in March ’71. The country then bombed numerous Indian airfields in the northern parts of the country on Dec 3rd, 1971, which was the beginning of the 1971 Indo-Park War.
  • After the war, we repatriated some 93,000 prisoners of war. These were all of Pakistan’s troops India had in custody. Pakistan still has not, over 40 years on, sent back at least 54 of our soldiers in their custody.
  • In 1989, the insurgency in Kashmir kicked off. This very same Pakistan, along with Kashmir’s separatists, worked towards creating a war zone of the land they so desperately craved. They incited, brainwashed and trained many young Kashmiri boys in the use of weapons in order to wage a proxy war against the Indian Union. This war continues till today, sponsored by the state of Pakistan, the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, all hiding behind the United Jihad Council.
  • In February 1999, Indian Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled to Lahore to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in a bid to improve relations between the two neighbours. Unknown to us, troops from Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry Regiment had already set up home in the mountains of Ladakh. The mountainous desert turned into a battlefield from early May to the 26th of July as India’s armed forces fought to push the invaders back.
  • The same Pakistan is sheltering the men mentioned earlier.
  • The same Pakistan assured India of action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks of November 26th, 2008.
  • The same Pakistan promised an investigation into links within their homeland regarding the Pathankot Air Force Station attack of 3rd January 2016.

These are some of the instances where Pakistan has shown its true colours. Remember those wise words from Ronald Weasley: “Poisonous toadstools don’t change their spots.” We have, over a period of time, constantly made attempts to trust Pakistan and its establishment. And what has that brought us? Nothing. Nothing but bloodshed and coffins covered in the Tricolour. How is it that we still want to promote goodwill and peace with a country that is clearly a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Pakistan’s engagements on the proxy war fronts have gone too far this time around. We have to retaliate. As a nation, we have to show our soldiers that we do not consider them to be disposable assets. They brave all situations for the nation. We have to stand with them. There can be no two ways about it. A message should go out to Pakistan. No matter what they say, they will not get away with attacks like Uri and Pathankot. We have to make it clear to the United States of America that we are not going to cow down and talk to their friends, who happen to be our neighbours. The big guys want their goods to flourish in India, they’ve got to put a stop to their support for Pakistan. No use in talking to the United Nations. They literally give no damns about us and since China’s on the Security Council, we can expect as much help from them against Pakistan as we can from Rohit Sharma in winning the Tests against the Kiwis. We will not be threatened by nuclear weapons, lest Pakistan forget that we have a few of our own. ‘No First Use’ can go take a walk. Our policy should be ‘No First Use in a state of conventional war’. We should make it sufficiently clear that we will not shy away from nuking that miserable country if India and her assets are attacked like this. If war is what Pakistan so badly wants, they should know that we will not back down. To quote Sir Winston Churchill, “We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our country (changed from island), whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!” This is, of course, not to put forth the idea that I’d prefer war. But Pakistan deserves a response, so perhaps a surgical strike. Non-state actors aren’t an option anyway, since mercenaries will switch sides when offered more money.

The government is taking steps, which I believe. It would be foolish to reveal anything to the public at this point in time. However, talking tough will not be enough. We have to stop entertaining Pakistan now. I’m all for culture, sport and politics to stay apart from each other but Pakistan has taken one step too many this time. Allow all Pakistani artistes in the country to leave once their existing projects are wrapped up. No cricket matches. No hockey matches. No concerts. Nothing. Also, a word for our politicians. At a time when an attack like Uri has taken place, please, try to get along. Back the government, Opposition. Government, take note of what the Opposition has to say. This is playing into Pakistan’s hands. The establishment there knows that our politicians love to bicker with each other. Stop the constant blame games and get back to ground. The bureaucrats too must step up their game. Try to be mature and stop being all sulky about your tiffs with the Services. The media, get out of the field. I sincerely request you. There is no good in helping terrorists by giving them a live feed of the operations. And please stop licking Pakistan’s ass. If you love that country so much, leave India and settle down there. Human Rights groups, shut up. Or speak now. Say that the human rights of the eighteen martyrs were violated. But you won’t do that, will you? Human rights are only for militants, suspected and proven, and for stone-pelters. The ones who are at the receiving end don’t deserve human rights, according to you.

I’m okayishly active on WhatsApp. As a twelfth standard student, I’m well-versed, as are most of my peers, about current affairs. To my surprise, not one person said a single thing about the Uri attack today. On the class group, this was fine since that’s mostly for notices and stuff. But other groups with people who are touted as the future of the country were silent. Why? Are we so unconcerned about our soldiers’ lives? People felt shocked when I said I didn’t know a certain Dr RA Mashelkar, who is a chemical engineer and a former DG of the CSIR as per his Wikipedia page. Agreed. I should’ve known about him. My counter question: Have you heard the names of Colonel Santosh Mahadik, SC, SM? Captain Tushar Mahajan, SC? Captain Pawan Kumar, SC? Hav Hangpan Dada, AC? Do these names, and those of so many others, ring a bell? Are we really so forgetful? Or do we just not care? Does the life of a soldier carry any value for the people of the country they protect? These are questions we need to ask ourselves.

Diwali is coming. Eighteen families will not be able to celebrate it with the fervour and joy associated with the festival. Children, wives, parents, siblings, friends….all waiting for their loved ones to turn up. Alas, that shan’t be so. Let us not let these families, and all those of all the martyrs this nation has seen, down. Let us prove, once and for all, that India is a force to reckon with and her enemies better watch out. Jai Hind!

Featured Image: Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, New Delhi (Courtesy of Google Images)

Varun Bhakay’s Writer’s Block (2016)