Satish Rajwade’s Director’s Cut – Asambhav takes new turn

Ever since Satish Rajwade has returned back from his so called break/ vacation whatever, Asambhav is now back on track. Characters have become alive, seen doing something rather than just talking something emotional. Earlier the total time of 20+ minutes used to have only 2 minutes of action taking the story forward. Now as Inspector Vikrant Bhosale has spun his net around Sulekha, we are discovering new twists to the story every few days.

What makes Satish separate from other directors is his grip on the content. In one of his interviews quite a long time back, he had said that you will not find a shot which is not required in Asambhav. Well! that did not hold true all the time but once he is back we are seeing it getting realized again and again. I had thought that his return to the serial was unnecessarily made dramatic and glorifying the character just because he is director. But with yesterdays first session of interrogation of Sulekha it seems that I was wrong.

BTW, what an episode was that. Although, I don’t see soaps much, I doubt if there is any episode in history of Indian soaps where only two characters have carried an entire episode on their shoulders. Though Satish had story behind him making him a hero, what a performance from Nilam Shirke. Hats off to her. Outside Asambhav & Zee Marathi, Nilam tries to tell the world that she is not really a natural fit for vamp roles and she can play various characters. She is always projecting herself as lively bubbly character. But then poor lady! her super performance is typecasting her in a villain’s role. She will really need a big serial with real positive character to change her image. But I like her this way as well, why change? The reason could be she is good in comedy too.

What has happened over past few months now is that we have completely forgotten that when Asambhav started, Adinath & Shubhra were the leads of this serial. Today that equation seems to have changed and now it looks as if it is Vikrant and Priya are the leads. All along these two years, Shubhra’s character has been the most dumb one. Despite having powers to get clues to the future, she just does not do anything but make scared faces. Despite all this, Urmila Kanetkar is a big find. The way she changes from Shubhra to Sulekha or Shubhra to Parvati is something that needs great skills. The difference in Shubhra and Parvati’s character is also shown without loud acting. All those hero heroines doing double roles must take few lessons from Urmila. Nilam on the other hand has benefit of having vary contrasting characters and she has done that superbly as well. But I would rank Urmila one point above.

Anyways, this being my first post on Asambhav, its bit too lengthy. Will stop here and go watch today’s episode. 🙂

Shankar Mahadevan – You rocked on Zee Marathi Saregamapa

What an episode man… one after the other the Saregamapa Little Champs went on singing and finally Shankar took the entire episode to its pinnacle. Initially when Shankar started praising everyone and forcing Avadhoot and Vaishali to give ni to everyone, I was saying come on Shankar this is not Hindi Saregamapa. Not everyone gets history here. In fact what I liked the most is Prathamesh Laghate alias PL told Vaishali that he is OK with less marks. That is real Marathi manoos man. We know what we are and where we are. But after the first round, the champs settled down and the effect of the praise they got started showing off. Even Kartiki who is generally not as good sang extremely well. Mugdha was also good. But I liked Arya & for a change Shamika. Arya in my opinion was the best performer of the day. Shamika’s marathi rendering was one of the best I have heard from her till date. How much I missed Shalmali… It would have been a great episode with her. But…

Shankar is one of the performers who says the best words for all who sing in front of him. He cheers them. Gives them standing ovation and everything he can. But when it comes to singing, he is just unbeatable. He sang Hansadhwani with Arya and it felt even sweeter both because if his singing and Arya joining with him. His bumro bumro also helped Avanti. But it was when Rohit Raut sang Mayechya Halavya, Shankar just showed what a great singer he is and how much these little champs need to learn. The number of variations he created in the same line which is recorded were just mind boggling. One after the other it kept coming … All Rohit could do was to sing as per the recording. Just too much for the poor child.

I have heard the song Maa from Taare Zameen Par so many times but the live performance did bring drops of tear to my otherwise dry eyes. Music can be as powerful as to change the entire world. If everyone speaks the same language across the world, it is music. Zee Marathi has shown the way to all other stupid Hindi entertainment channels what quality of content means. Once it is there, you don’t need all those nakharas and well rehearsed and scripted dialogues in reality shows. What Zee Marathi shows is much real than any Hindi channel. Keep it up Zee Marathi.


Zee Marathi Saregamapa – Shocking Result. Shalmali Out of race

If Ketaki’s departure was unfortunate, Shalmali’s departure cannot be anything less than shocking. When there is a competition, only the best need to be chosen and yesterday’s results proved why democracy is failing not just in India but world wide. People never choose the best candidate. I am also responsible partially for this shocking result as I did not vote for Shalmali. Who could have imagined that Shalmali will go out of this race?

In the episode aired in Diwali & one after that, Rohit was doing badly. He was not able to sing and as Avadhoot Gupte pointed out yesterday that yesterday for the first time he sang rather than performed. I believe, he got lot of sympathy vote this time causing Shalmali Tipre Sukhtankar’s departure.

The finalist in the Zee Marathi Saregamapa Little Champs are all really good. It is very difficult to take one out. If you ask me the last two at this stage would definitely be Rohit and Kartiki for their lack of versatility. Avanti Patel is not consistent  and one bad performance can throw her out someday or may be she is the second Shalmali in this race. But Shalmali was never anything less than being in Top 3-4. My topper list is Prathamesh, Shalmali, Arya, Mugdha and may be Avanti. Avanti sings all songs with same emotions and smiling face. Hence she is on border. Arya is also inconsistent and her approach to add expressions is bit immature. Prathamesh and Shalmali would have really been top two but…

Mugdha’s SMS contribution seems to have gone down this week. I was fearing that she will win to competition purely on SMS rather than on merit. She is youngest of them all but still way to go. To conclude my thoughts on this whole episode, I would suggest that rather than taking SMS for a particular week, Zee Marathi can consider aggregating all the SMS in a weighted average (e.g. 1 week SMS will have 10% weight, next week 20% etc.) and then use this number to avoid such disappointment. It’s been a real shock for Shalmali and her fans (including me). I am sure being a Mumbai girl, she has tenacity to recover from this and she will rule Marathi music in years to come. Wish you all the best Shalmali.

Prabhu Ramchandra to Raj Thakre –Times have really changed

Well you will ask me what is connection between Prabhu Ramchandra & Raj Thakre. Appearantly there is nothing that you can find quickly. But little bit of reference to history and you will find it quickly. Wasn’t Prabhuji the prince of today’s bhaiyyas? He was the first UPite to come to Maharashtra. Who were residents of Maharashtra & may be Karnataka then? In Dandakaranya, it was land of rishis and munis and the rest was wanarraj. Sugreev was fighting with his brother Wali even in that time. Fortunately the issue of Bhaiyyas was not that hot at that time. Hardly anyone from north used to come down under. So there was no Raj Thakre in that time.

Times have really changed. From the prince of Ayodhya, now you will find the poor common people coming here. The MNS equates them to monkeys. Tries to shoo them away. Ram is now worshiped in Maharashtra as well as all southern states of India. Hanuman from this area is worshiped in North. So much so the monkeys are treated as avatars of Hanuman and they have become a big time menace in Delhi. So the men are being compared to monkeys and monkeys are being compared to God.

Times have not really changed. Brothers in Maharashtra still fight with each other. Earlier it was wanar princes now the human beings. To kill his own brother Sugreev took help of Ram. To win elections in this times, vote banks of North Indians are being created. Kingdom gaya bhadme. Muze meri gaddhi chahiye.

So the Maharashtrians can really claim the authenticity/ originality of there genes and call themselves as locals and sons of this soil as long as they can keep fighting with each other. North Indians do not worry. Raj will never get majority. Our own brothers will ensure that. You are most welcome.

Note: Please take this entire writing on a lighter note. I personally do not intent to offend any of our Gods. They are as much as mine as yours. I do not intent to demean the human beings or any race or people from any region. But just give a different direction to look at our history.


Zee Marathi Saregamapa – Good luck Neha & How to beat Mugdha?

On Monday, Saregamapa Little Champs bid good bye to Neha Karmarkar. Neha started vey well in this competition but somewhere she lost track. Due to health problems some of her episodes were quite low. She tried to recover but could not do it as fast as our Puneri doll – Arya Ambekar. I am sure Neha will not lose her confidence. She did not cry but she did look nervous to me. I definitely wanted to see her in top 5.

On the other hand the magic run of Mugdha continues. Of all votes, (Pallavi said 7 lakh SMS) Mugdha bagged 35% that’s whopping 220K+ votes. That’s amazing but my suspicious mind does not stop me from thinking. Mugdha is definitely good and for her age, she is giving everyone much older than her a tough fight. I heard she is not as young as she looks. So how is she managing to get so many votes?

There is a good possibility that she has some admirers who are spending lot of money. She seems to be coming from typical middle class Marathi family like you and me. So her family may not be doing all this. They all are good people. But the other possibility is that someone know how to hack the online voting system and is sending votes to Mugdha free of cost. Does Zee Marathi has will or wherewithal to find this out? I believe they have.

I posted you tube video of Shalmali Sukhtankar in my earlier blog post.  Now that video is gone and its user ahonkan’s account is suspended by Google. This proves that Zee Marathi is actively tracking the copyrighted material or may be it was some bitter comments by ahonkan that irked Zee Marathi. But we have lost a good collection of you tube videos which we enjoyed a lot when we missed the show. I have to think of moving to Tata Sky Plus now.

Yes we will – Barack Obama wins US Presidential Election

Today I got an opportunity to watch the historic win of Barack Obama, the first Afro-American president of USA. More than the historic nature of the win, what impacted me was the speeches by both candidates.

After having fought the hard battle, Senator McCain gave the most graceful speech I have heard till now. It was short, to the point, graceful and above all the differences he had with Obama. McCain not just congratulated Obama but also committed to work with him and help him build the nation in the time of crisis. True to his soldierly attitude, he was also sporting enough to applaud the efforts taken by his opponent. While his supporters were booing Obama, McCain calmed them down and never showed sign of losing. He was very positive in his approach. He knew that he has given a good fight and not left any stone unturned.

Obama on the other hand was not as effective in the oratory skills. His speech started with a long list of people to thank and once that was done, he set the future agenda. One of the most important thing he said was that this victory is not the end, it is the chance that they have got and it is now a bigger responsibility to ensure that the dreams are fulfilled.He gave example of a black lady aged 106 voting in this election. Taking her lifespan as a prop, he reminded all about the history, right from the days of slavery to Linclon, to Martin Luther King to today. The speech was full of positive energy, as was McCain. He reminded all of the herculean task ahead and assured the republicans that he will be there president as well. Though it was a bit longer speech, I just could not escape the positive spirit it had.

This positive spirit is what USA makes a different country and takes them to the number one position in the world. Even in the toughest of the times, they have that will to overcome it. And when I am saying about the positive spirit, it is not the general public as such, it is the leadership. When the nation gets people who are so charged up at the center stage, the nation just can not fail.

While the speeches in India are so dull and slow and the audience is noisy, I was very much impressed with the involvement of the audience and the force in speech. The cautious optimism in Obama’s speech was very practical and the overall tone of the words spoken was rational. Their was faith in God, trust in people and willingness to listen. That’s what makes USA the nation it is.

Zee Marathi Saregamapa – Shalmali Don’t listen to Devaki

Tuesday evening Zee Marathi show Saregamapa Little Champs had judge Devaki Pandit back on the show as celebrity judge. We are now so used to the sweet comments by Vaishali & Avadhoot that we had almost forgotten all the “पण” comments. Devaki was in her usual self, pulling all little champs down to earth. Finally almost all got the same प-प marks with 1-2 exceptions. However amidst all these comments there was one comment which I did not like at all.


–>We all know how serious Devaki is about her music. She has her own style of singing and has tremendous passion for correct (rather perfect) notes and renditions. She is always unhappy about her performance and that keeps her going. However expecting this from everyone is a bit too much. In terms of stage performances for light music, Devaki is not as good as she is for classical or semi-classical. In fact I find her quite boring. I have seen her singing live during the finals of the celebrity special show of Saregamapa. For such a bright and happy moment she chose a very sad song which was completely out of synch with the rest of the show. Even during the finals of last season, where Vaishali Made won the crown, Devaki sang a so-called remix of Pt. Jitendra Abhisheki’s song. She was horrible. Initially she was “बेसूर” and only after the editing of the show, the song was a bit better to our ears. Live stage performance (Light or filmy music and not the classical or semi-classical music) is a different ball game and Devaki is not made for that.

On the other hand, Shalmali is a complete performer. We saw her singing the “कशाला उद्याची बात” on Monday. That was a mind blowing performance. Her singing was good. She was completely involved and her whole body sang with her. The very next day, Devaki objected to this saying she should focus on correct sur and keep the facial expressions, acting etc. aside. I feel this is completely wrong. A performer need not be a bore. Because the playback singers can not act or dance, they are playback singers. Audience wants a complete package, therefore Indian film industry has this unique concept of playback. Actors act and dance and singers sing. But when you get all in one person, why should you object. Shalmali is completely involved into her singing and that not only gives her pleasure but it is a joy to watch her as well. Conventionally she is not a beauty but it is her involvement and commitment to the song which pleases our eyes and ears and touches us.

So Shalmali! you are good as you are. Listen to any other advise about singing better but don’t be a bore. Be as cheerful and as lively as you are, we will come and listen to you, see how you perform and enjoy it completely. Keep Asha Bhosale as your idol and be like her, perfect yet very much cheerful, lively and presentable.

MNS violence and changed face of political activity

I received few comments on my article on Raj Thakre & MNS – the road ahead. Most of the comments on the article and the entire electronic media specially Hindi & English had only one point to say – “Look at the violence Raj & MNS have done. Look at the loss to public property. This is the reason MNS should be banned. Raj is dividing the country. We should not encourage this and this should be one country.” My daughter also reacted in somewhat similar manner like the last statement. But it was far more effective than the comments. She said all of these guys must be asked to say the prayer “India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters…” Well said Janhavi.

Anything is possible in Bihar

I was wondering, when everyone is objecting to the violence in Mumbai, did these guys not see what was happening in Bihar as a reaction to this? There the students unions hijacked a TRAIN ENGINE. Now isn’t that a bit too much. If the MNS is burning buses here, Bihari students are burning whole train there. Is that not property of the nation? More than the busses of local governing bodies, the train is really a NATIONAL property and not state. But then no one is surprised because it is BIHAR. Anything is possible there and one wont even wink after hearing horrific stories of crime, vandalism over there. It is all accepted.

Can you show courage in UP & Bihar to change situation there?

One person commented that he had to leave Bihar as there are no jobs over there. He also said that he is willing to stop any vandalism by taking personal risk. I really sympathize with his situation in Bihar and appreciate his courage. But will he dare to show the same courage in Bihar? If all these poor Biharis and UPites show courage in their own state and fight the landlords and politicians there, they don’t have to come to Mumbai or Maharashtra for roji roti. Sitting here in sophisticated well cultured state of Maharashtra (This is comparative statement and not absolute truth… please…) it is easy to talk about courage. Why the common man is falling for Raj’s arguments is because he is seeing his culture is under threat. His cities are under threat. Even after taking out terror activities, there is lot of crime coming to the cities of Maharashtra from up North. (Once again this does not mean that there are no criminals in here. But the level of criminals in MH and Northen states is quite different.) Can you imagine ladies roaming freely & safely in the night in any of these North Indian cities?

Non violence is not effective against today’s politicians

Coming back to the main point, go anywhere in India, political vandalism is not an exception but a rule. Raj in one of his interviews said that Gandhiji’s non-violence was for well mannered British (I am sure he treated General Dire as exception) and it is no longer effective against today’s politicians and bureaucrats. Forget about the British but is this not really true for the current situation? So the question is what is the most effective way to influence the politicians other than money to do the good and right things? Between the 5 years of election how can we get things done the right way and not what majority thinks is right.

Democracy is flawed and we are lucky to be here

Democracy in itself is a flawed concept but we do not have better alternative. Presidential democracy could be more effective in India as historically we are used to monarchy. But still… The purpose of any political system is to raise the bar, raise the living standard of the people. We are lucky to be in the current economic boom. This was possible because we have one learned PM backed up by one equally learned FM. (Narasinha Rao & MMS). But then in general the politics has been driven by electing a representative from the most deprived people and not the best person who can do good to all. The very sentiment that the person from other cast cannot help my cast has divided the country long back. We are seeing Raj dividing the country but he is uniting the Marathis irrespective of their cast. Recently he spoke about reservations. He said that when we are set to work for all where is the question of doing favor to one cast or the other? Is this not far different from other politicians? Back to the point… that in democracy in India the overall standard is actually being averaged out. Rather than choosing the best of the best, we are choosing best amongst the worst. So the politician you can expect to deal with your non-violent techniques is a very thick skinned person who knows that you are not going to hit him back. So he resents to all possible techniques of delaying justice their by denying it.

Rang De Basanti vs Lage Raho Munnabhai

In Rang De Basanti movie, Rakesh Mehra suggested that violence against the politicians can be one ways to fight the injustice. But no one actually wrote back that violence is not the solution. Most of us feel that violence against corrupt politicians is the best way to fight them. So should the common party worker now seek this solution rather than damaging public property? Will YOU be that type of party worker for MNS? Non violence sounded so good in Lage Raho Munnabhai that many people fell in love of that and started sending flowers. Soon they are realizing that there are not enough flowers in India cause then everyone will get at least one flower a day, at least in the cities. Don’t you think so? Next time when you litter/ break a traffic rule/ give 50 bucks to the cop think of someone giving you a flower and saying get well soon. Violence against corrupt politicians is not an easy option. These days they have Z grade security. Raj’s Z grade security is removed after the bail.

Some thoughts on dealing with current situation

So now you tell me how can we effectively deal with corrupt politicians? The only way is to increase number of good politicians. My second suggestion is to remove current reservation system which is based on cast and bring in system based on economic state. What is the best way to eradicate cast system? Just completely delete it. For the computed geeks do a shift+del. No one should ever be asked about his cast ever again. But let’s say if the government stops asking anyone his cast, why would one need it? Where do you need it today in business? So just delete the cast system from the country. Then the natural vote banks will be gone. Similarly the government can also think of religion. Never ask anyone of his religion. How does it matter in business? It definitely does not matter in arts and sports. I read an article in TOI about a lady who traced a system similar to cast system in France. She had hard time tracing these deprived people because there were simply no records of them anymore. So why is this not possible in India? Let’s remove this hippocracy from our society. I believe this will to a great extent remove cast based politics from our country. So when the vote banks are gone, the chances of having better politicians are more.

Today’s state of political worker

We also need to change our concept of social/ political work. Unfortunately there has been an big overlap and people think that a person without political views can be a good political leader. Politics is not just about representation. Politicians have a higher responsibility of taking the society forward. They are leaders but unfortunately today all these leaders are just managers. They somehow manage everything. They manage press/ media, they manage police, they manage taking bribes and what not. The very basic reason is that in their political career they have been managing individual’s problems from the beginning. As long as few individuals or a small group of people is managed, they can become politician. Consider the overall voter base of
any politician today. No one has more than 50% votes.

Today in my city when I see what the general public calls social work or political work is about following items: 1. Organizing Ganesh Festival/ Navratri festival/ Dandiya 2. Organizing blood donation camps 3. Organizing competitions of record dance, singing, rangoli etc. 4. Helping people to organize death rituals 5. Sitting at the paan tapri and socializing and so on. Now consider this. Today organizing a festival is far more simpler. You just need to collect money. Rest almost everything is done by vendors including decoration. You don’t have to sing prayers. CD players to that. You don’t have to do much in organizing the blood donation camp. The blood bank and pendal contractor do most of the work. You need few posters. The competitions don’t need participation of the workers. Mandap, guest (this is mostly local leader to get publicity) and prizes. So in short it has become very easy to do this type of social work. The politician of today is coming from such background. The choice of party is hardly based on the ideology but just a matter of convenience, contacts or rivalry. Where is the character building required to be in politics? That is the reason today’s politicians change parties like shirts. So when character/ principles are not required to succeed in political work, people who can manage everything become leader. Their followers believe that the leader can do anything to give them what they want.

Need for principle centered leadership

The role of media is very critical in changing this outlook. But they do not want to focus on this. They want to focus on “NEWS BITE”. In such scenario if one wants to get good things done what is the most effective option? MNS supporters have chose the easiest one. Pick up a stone and throw at anything. This is the only way they know to vent anger. So are the party workers of any party. It is not really character of only MNS.

The need for principle based politics is far higher today than in any other time. Rethink about what Narasinha Rao & Manmohan Singh did to this country.

Raj Thakre & MNS – the road ahead

The drama of Raj Thakre’s arrest and bail kept all news channels busy for two days. So much so, the “Chandrayan” news did not get enough viewership across India. Now that he has got bail and the atmosphere has cooled down, we can look back and see that the core issue in this whole drama has gone for a toss.

The aftermath, mayhem or whatever names were given to the incidents post Raj’s arrest, are not the real issue. The issue is about jobs, migrants. Across the entire world, migrants are always an issue. Those who call themselves as sons of soil, were migrants few centuries back. So who really are the sons of soil? USA is a land of migrants. I saw lot of analysts on the news channels citing examples of USA but all those are irrelevant in India. Primarily because US history is not even 1000 years. Whereas India has at least 5-6 thousand years of history.

The Dilemma

I work in an IT company and many of my colleagues are working in different parts of the world. To us migrating to some part of the world always looked right. But still somewhere, deep inside, I was supporting Raj. I kept wondering why is this happening? Am I right to think so, when I myself have gone to parts of world for my job.

The answer probably lies in the level at which we work. Most of the work we do is a skilled job. It is not something anyone can do. While the jobs for which Raj & MNS are fighting are low, semi or unskilled jobs. With a huge inflow of migrants in Maharashtra (Not just Mumbai), local people are losing these jobs. In many of the industries being set across the state, it is same situation. Mumbai today specifically is dominated by Bhaiyyas and Pune is also going the same way.

Is this my native place?

If in my hometown, I am not able to speak my mother tongue, where the hell in the world will I speak it? What is the difference in that case between Pune & Lucknow? Now this is causing me worry somewhere back of my mind. I remember the Marwari family who ran shop in our neighborhood. They sent their children to our school. All of them speak Marathi very well. Now a days every where I have to use Hindi. This change is not so visible to younger generations as they have not seen the world before computers. But then we have seen it.

Why migrants settle here

So what causes these migrants to stays here forever and start influencing our culture? One is that the common Marathi Manoos (Now that has become a clichéd term) has very low ego. He does not mind speaking other language to communicate. Down south it is the other way round. The ego is more like pride. Second, the bollywood movies and recently Hindi channels have taught the Hindi language to most of the urban, semi urban Maharashtra. Third, their is no control over the minimum living standards enforced by state or local bodies. In a 10 ft x 10 ft room 10+ migrants can easily adjust their life, there by reducing the cost of living. Slums get authorized by state government after few years, local bodies provide them all essential amenities like water, electricity under the sweet name of humanity. Fourth, the local people again don’t mind employing migrants as they are cheap (not always best. We have some security staff from North, who are sooooooo dumb. You can not call then skilled) and they don’t mind doing business with migrants. There could be more. I wont repeat the ones about political will as they are listed in all news papers.

Tactics/ Strategy to tackle migrants

Now if MNS wants to ensure that the local people get more jobs, then there are some tactics that need to be played. One – raise the pride in our own language, culture. Two – make the language and culture more modern so that the younger generation can associate with it. Give glamour to the culture. Three – impose laws of minimum living standards and throw people living below that standard out of the cities/ towns. If housing is cheap due to slums, make it costly by taxes. Four – strategically target employment and businesses these migrants work into. Develop attitude of service, entrepreneurship locally and at the same time non-violently block the daily bread and butter of the migrants. Five – force local language in all possible communication. Encourage attempts to simplify the language, find new cool words for their counterparts in English/ Hindi. Allow a little bit of mixture of words from other languages and make Marathi richer in word power. Six – Get more Marathi officials in government. Throw the outsiders out of the state. Readers of this blog can suggest more options in the comments.

Thick skinned government and need for quick justice

But all this is a long term strategy. In short term when you want to do this, it has become extremely difficult to get things done in a real non-violent manner. The politicians, the burocracy are so thick skinned here that today they can simply deny justice by delaying it. When the MNS guys take law in their hands, they get support because of the insensitivity of the government. People have now started feeling that this is a right measure to enforce law. (Remember the police and people beating the thieves to death or another being towed away with legs tied to a bike in Bihar?) This phenomenon is not limited to Maharashtra. It is all across India. The only answer to this is with the politicians. They need to be principle centered than looking at petty politics.

Open questions

Lastly some questions to Raj Thakre – If his party comes to power in Maharashtra, who will be his ministers? (Not just the CM. The other ministers as well.) The current photographs we see on the banners across the city are not really promising, high caliber supporters. Second, when Sena-BJP combine came to power, these parties did not know how to boost the economy of the state and how to provide more jobs to local people. What is MNS’ strategy to do this?