Celebrating Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

A short note on my love for the Aamir Khan, Ayesha Jhulka starrer, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. I talk about how it’s a lesson in filmmaking!

Poster from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

If you are an Indian and you don’t know about this film, you must have lived under a rock. It probably is among the most iconic films of all time. While people dismiss it as a school / student rivalry film, I think the right category to slot it in is that of bildungsroman (aka coming-of-age film). It was after all about a boy, Sanjay Lal Sharma (aka Sanju) that had seen just the rosy parts of life and how he was shaken into growing up and standing up for his brother, father and community.

In terms of a standalone film, JJWS had everything going for it – a compelling story that never gets old, a plot with enough ups and downs to keep you hooked, almost perfect casting (with dreamy-eyed small-town kids to the English-speaking expensive-blazer-totting flamboyant privileged kids to the simpleton, the common folks that you’d find in any small town in India to others), music that instantly becomes an earworm, characters that you want to root for (you want Sanju to do well and you want Shekhar to suffer) and a climax that literally forces you to get on your feet and clap out loud!

Even though the film is more than 30 years old and the last I saw it would have been a few years ago, the visuals are so fresh in my mind that I can recall the narrative with scary accuracy. I can reproduce shots as if I am staring at a photo grab from the film. I can relate to (and even empathise with) each action taken by each character in the film – even if the character existed in blank, white or grey. Back then when I was younger, I may not have been able to. But today I can.

I mean look at Ram Lal – the father of Ratan and Sanjay. By the day he is at the school and then whatever time is left, he runs Ram Lal’s cafe. While he holds no ambition of his own, his salvation is in providing for his two sons (one, the picture-perfect obedient and the other, picture-perfect petulant). He wants his son to win a bicycle race and come out on top as a champion. The real desire is not the success of his son but the chase of the glory of the days gone by and the satisfaction of having taken his revenge. He wants to live his life via his son. Even with his flaws, he makes personal sacrifices in the way he lives. He’s saving as much as he can and for that, he’s literally pinching pennies. If this is not how a father ought to be, I dont know what could one be. And despite the flaws, he is perfect and commands respect.

PS: Back then, I couldn’t identify with Ram Lal with as much nuance but thanks to SoG, I have been able to appreciate the limitation of us humans (in our ability to do things) and want of living the life you’ve wanted (and are unable to get) through the life of the ones around you. I understand the need of creating winners, even at a personal cost and the sacrifices you must make to even give these kids a shot at winning!

Look at Ratan. The elder brother. His sole reason for existence is to get his school and thus his father the glory they believed they deserve. He spends all his time, his entire life chasing that one dream. And just when he is almost there, he is left injured. To see the scenes unfold from the sidelines. The injury itself is a result of a freak accident triggered by a frivolous act by his yet-to-grow-up younger brother. And no, unlike the modern-day young people, he submits to fate and moves on. Unknown to him, he plays yet another important role in the film. Probably the most important role. That of the trigger, the inspiration, the reason for young Sanju to want to grow up.

Aamir Khan as Sanjay Lal Sharma aka Sanju

If Sanju became Sanjay Lal Sharma and lifted the trophy, it was not his hard work or dedication or anything. It was Ram Lal’s sacrifices and Ratan Lal’s inability. And no, I dont mean to take anything away from Sanjay. He has had his ups and downs but eventually delivers on his destiny.

Now Sanjay is a curious case. On one side he had his father, his brother, his sidekicks, and the never-leave-my-side love interest. On the other, he had a formidable adversary, tall odds stacked like a mountain and the weight of the monster of expectations on his back. He was bang in the middle and each time any of these moved, he was churned and polished. And oh boy, did he shine like a diamond?

What made the film even more special is those tiny moments that seem to mean nothing and yet added to the layers of the story. There is this scene when Shekhar and his flunkies are at Ram Lal’s Cafe and Ratan is forced to wait at them. There is this instance when Sanju is imagining Devika dancing on top of a car in her The-Woman-In-Red-ish dress. Anjali on the other hand is imaging herself when Sanju is air-kissing someone. Uff!

The music from the film is a tome in itself. An entire generation grew up proposing to their loved ones with Pehla Nasha. Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar made me want to be a part of a school of cool kids. Rooth Key Humse made me pine for a brother that I could be with (sorry SG2 :D). The track was used to break the monotony and showcase the growth of Sanju as a person. There were more tracks – each written, performed and shot as well as any other.

Since the film is from 30 years ago, I found the direction and camerawork dated. But the team got the art spot on. From the sets to the decor to the costume to even the side characters, everything was spot on. I mean look at this signboard for Ram Lal’s cafe.

Ram Lal’s Cafe

The green background and white, serifed text, in all caps is gorgeous. The apostrophe is missing. Maybe on purpose. The RC logo looks like something done in a small town. The blue and yellow shade is in contrast to the green board.

Look at those scarves that Anjali is using to tie her hair. Look at those simple tees and shirts that have their buttons open. The fence they are leaning on looks weathered and looks like something you would imagine at a cafe from the pre-Starbucks era! Each scene of the film seems to have been made with a lot of attention to detail. Exactly the kind of work I would want to do.

Let me talk about the story. You know how a film ought to follow a three acts structure where tension rises at each point. The protagonist needs to accomplish a hero’s journey. And all the while the story must be technically sound, it needs to keep people hooked. JJWS scores on all three counts. In fact, it does it so well that each incident can be plotted on the charts even by a novice writer like me!

In fact, as an aspiring filmmaker, I think this film deserves to be made into a mandatory study. As the film celebrates its 30th anniversary, I can only congratulate the filmmakers for a job done well and invite my younger friends to go see the film!

And as I end this, what do you think of the film? What are your favourite parts? What do you recall the most about it?

Lemme know!

[Rant] Action. Inaction. Keeping at it.

A quick note about life, sleep, Kabir, meaning, action and inaction.

I dont know what to write. I just feel like writing. So, I am going to randomly type and see what I end up creating.

Also, this has come out as a rant. You may not want to read this.

I started writing this at 9 PM last night. While thinking about what to write, I dozed off. I think it is because I hadn’t slept well the previous night. At the age I am at, I need my 8 hours of sleep at night. And I need 2 hours during the day. I think this is one of those side effects of age that I need to probably undo.

Anyhow. So, I am at the airport, waiting for a flight to go to Mumbai. From Delhi. Since August of last year, I have been spending time between Delhi and other places. However, my work, my heart, my soul is in Mumbai. Or maybe Goa. Or maybe at airports. But definitely not in Delhi. Even though Delhi is home, Delhi is where I grew up and I am still unable to take Delhi out of me. I mean the way I am sitting sprawling at a chair in the waiting area, I could only be from Delhi!

While in Mumbai, among other things, I hope to meet a few people. The top of that list is V, my agony aunt, mentor, friend, and I dont know what all. She has been a pillar of support since I can remember (actually since 2009). I wish I had more access to her. But then the good part is that I meet her after long gaps and she can point to me if I have changed – you know, put weight, got better with thinking, or if I am taking action.

Talking about action, here is a video (about inaction) that I just saw and it gave me goosebumps! You HAVE to see this. Here…

I think with each passing day I am getting clearer about how I want to spend my life. I am unable to articulate it well but it would be something like…

1. Do great things. You know, climb Mt. Everest, chase a billion dollars etc.

2. While doing those things, live with the highest level of integrity, action, kindness, gratitude, ambition, effort and more.

3. When I think I have reached a place where what I’ve done is inspiring for the world at large, go inspire others to chase their respective bliss. Whatever that may be.

So that.

Of course, along the way, I will have to figure out work (that pays me enough, allows me to pay my team enough, contribute to causes, like the Kabir‘s life and all that), deliver consistently (if we are not consistent, what are we even?) and keep at it. I mean some days are hard. H A R D. You are left questioning the very why of your existence. And you are this close to giving up that it’s a miracle that you are even breathing the next instant.

I think I am lucky that somehow I have not fallen down the Rabbit’s hole of inaction. Probably I have surrounded myself with people and media that move me and push me. And I have chosen to cut off from people that ask me to take it easy. And thus I am able to even get out of the bed!

Ok, I am getting ranty.

Moving on.

The point of this piece was, well, nothing. I just felt like writing. And I started this piece last night. And now that I had the time (as I waited for the flight), I thought I will finish writing it!

With this, over and out.

See you guys next time!

First published here.

In 2027

I future gaze and predict what I would’ve done by 2027. No, I am not giving a date. Just the year 2027.

Hola!

After I wrote the last post, the same lady that inspired me to write the last one, asked me to write another one. This time, gazing at the crystal ball and imaging what the next 5 years could be like. And what I would want them to be. So here, is an attempt at that.

Of course, this is like a wish list and I want to get to each of these things. As always, I am aiming very very high and I know I would miss these. But even I miss these, I would do better than what I am doing right now!

By 2027, I would have done the following for sure. These are my life goals, you know.

  1. Made an attempt to the summit. Hopefully, successfully.
  2. Made a billion dollars and used that money to inspire others.
  3. Fall in love. And live-in with that person. I would still be child-less (except M). Unless my partner wants one. Most probably I would not be living in India.
  4. Some of my kids would be millionaires and billionaires. If not all. This is the single most important goal that I want to chase in the next 5 years.

In terms of smaller, more tangible goals, here are the things that I would have achieved. I would’ve (in order of what I “want” right now)…

  1. Released at least one film (at least) that I would have written or produced or both.
  2. Been 30″ by waist at least once.
  3. Made it on the bestsellers list. Hopefully with book2, if not with book3 or 4 or whatever.
  4. Learnt how to become a human flag.
  5. Reached the final table of WSOP. Hopefully I would’ve got the bracelet.
  6. Bought a house. No, I dont think its a great investment. Just that I need a place to dump all the memories.
  7. Travelled to 50. My count as of today is some 40. I am not the one to do all countries. But there are a few that I want to travel to. For example, South America, Japan etc.

So that.

What about you?
What are your 2027 goals? You know, in 5 years?
Can I play some role in helping you reach those goals?

PS: I will use this post as a running one to talk about changes / achievements / failures and all that.

2017 vs 2022

A quick note on thoughts triggered by a tweet from a stranger. I end up comparing my 2022 with my 2017. Read on!

So, a few days ago, this tweet caught my eye!

V asked, “If you could press a button and wake up exactly where you were 5 years ago – losing everything that happened to you in the last 5 years, including the knowledge you gained – would you do it?”

While the poll format was easy to react to, the question triggered a lot of thoughts and I thought I will record a SoloCast on this. Or at the very least, write about it. I am not sure I have the time to record, edit, publish one but I can try and steal some minutes from a busy day to write about this.

And here we go!

PS: For the sake of this post, I will assume that COVID-19 did not happen. And that means I will not consider the second-order effects of getting caught in the pandemic.

So we are in 2022 and if I could go back 5 years, we would be in 2017. At that time I would have been 34-35. An age when all is not lost (you are still “far” from the old age of 40). And an age where you are still hopeful. And an age where what you’ve learned in the last three decades of your life seems usable. And an age that doesn’t come across as an outlier for a dreamer. And an age where my dreams of making a dent seemed plausible. And an age where the world had still not woken up to the wonders of decentralised “asset” classes like BTC (it was still breaching 10K).

When I evaluate life, I find that the constructs we have tend to fall short. There is no “model” of sorts that I can lean on to get an objective view. This chart below is the best I think in terms of helping get a grasp of things.

This chart is a simple one really. It makes you rate one area of your life on a scale of 10 and helps you make a spider chart of your life. And since a spider chart is very very visual, you get a good sense of how and where your life is stacked!

Ok. Lemme talk about each spoke. And talk about how it was in 2017, how it is now (in 2022) and if I would like to turn back time.

Let’s go!

A. Health. I would have been 35. That means I would have more time to get my Hernia fixed. I would probably have better teeth. I was still not bald. I think I was thinner as well. Plus I had the exuberance of youth. So that is nice. Healthwise, I think, I was far better off as a 35-year old!

Today I am frail at best. I am fat to a point that I dont like myself. I have shaved my head (which is not cool – you need to keep shaving all the time and that sucks).

So, in terms of health, I was better off in 2017 for sure.

B. Wealth. I dont recall (I did not keep a tab) but back then I would have had more than what I would have needed. I would have been living at Wadhwa (that means I was paying top dollar for a rental house) and would’ve had more modern comforts than I have had since.

Today I don’t have a house. I live with my parents as of today (come March I will have a rental house but today I dont have one).

So, in terms of money, I was better off in 2017.

C. FnF. I was living next door to M. And my sis and I were sharing a house. So that means I was in a good place with FnF.

Today while I live with my parents, I am neither emotionally nor spiritually connected to my family. Sad but that’s how it is.

So, again, 2017 was better.

D. Playtime. Oh, I played pool often with VG. I would meet friends around Powai. I would hang out with friends on their birthdays, I was definitely a lot less awkward than what I am right now.

So 2017 definitely was a better time!

E. Relationships. I think (not sure though) I was with a woman and I was fairly happy while I was with her. I was holidaying at fancy hotels, spending quality time, getting to know her, and in general having a good time. My friends adored her. I was loved by her people. Everything was nice.

Right now, I am in a complicated mess. Like a lot of people my age and my generation. So 2017 was better.

F. Career. In terms of tangibles, in 2017, I would have spent all of 2 years with C4E. I would have been in the hopeful stage where C4E seemed like the best idea since the beginning of time or sliced bread.

Today, 5 years on, C4E is probably the strongest we have been but we are nowhere close to where I wanted to take it. Agreed COVID played spoilsport but there are tons of businesses that mushroomed in the last 3 years. And mine is not one of those. So, I have sort of failed on this.

And thus, 2017 was better!

G. Personal Space. Since I lived in a fairly large house (it was a three-bedroom one), I had all the space. I was on the 24th floor. I had a hall which could fit in two houses! I was a master of my whims and I could do the house the way I want to (minimal etc).

Today I dont have a place to call my own. No, I’ve never owned a house per se but even a rental house is no longer around. And thus.

H. Contribution. I am not sure but I dont think I would have started investing in TRS, PPP or other ideas. However, I would definitely been the kind to give, support, share, mentor, even if I did not have enough. I refuse to believe that the way I live my life right now has happened overnight.

Today though my contribution is huge. In fact, if there is one facet that has worked REALLY well in the last 5 years, it is this ability to contribute to the success and peace and happiness and careers of a lot of people. Of course, the individuals had to work hard and all that, but I can say for sure that the trajectory of their lives is better because I was a part.

So, on this one, 2022 is better!


So, all in all, 2017 was definitely better compared to 2022. I can only hope 2027 is better as well. The funny thing though is that when I saw this tweet for the first time, I instinctively knew that 2017 would’ve been better. And now that I have done the analysis, I am appalled and amazed and how quick and how accurate my gut was!

Ok enough of gloating. Time to sleep. Over and out!

Untitled 12 Feb 2022

Random rant from a day when I am kind of mind-effed. If there is a word like that.

Trigger Warning. Please read ahead if and only if you can tolerate rant about life and death.

So I haven’t published anything on my blog in a while. I have had the reasons to and things to, but I did not. I dont know why. I am feeling chatty rn and I think I will try and do a brain dump, ideas vomit and all that.

These are no order. I am typing randomly.

ONE

So today I met this friend who recently lost a parent. I am socially inept and I dont know what to do what to talk what to say and what to not say in these situations. People moving on is messy. People going for good is another matter. I mean when someone moves out of your life (and it’s not new to me – I’ve had enough people walk out on, keep me on the edge, use me and all that), you know that you did all you could to keep them around (or should I say, hang around them as they did their thing) and there is that lingering hope that they’d come back. You know, hope being the best of thing and all that?

But when someone goes for good, I dont even know how people reconcile. I have been lucky that I haven’t had to face anyone leaving me for good. And that means that even though I am 40, I dont understand how to say goodbyes. My understanding of life has remained superficial at best. I have lived it at the surface level and I haven’t gone into any depths whatsoever. Wait. Why do you need these depths? Anyway, life is meaningless. No? Maybe, in the grand scheme of things. But to people that lose their loved ones, the ones that dont get closure, the ones that dont find a solution or an answer, maybe there is some purpose after all!

Thing is, I often tell people that are facing such life-altering events that I understand what they go thru, I even get by most times as I can fake well. But then once I’ve done that, I get mindfucked to a point that I dont know what to do!

The reasons for this mindfuckery are simple. Lemme try and write about those here.

A, I am amazed at the strength shown by these people. I dont think I would have it in me to face the world once I lose something, someone close.

B, When I fake, I tend to lose my energy. I never believed in this but as I grow older, I am seeing that things take away my energy (faking things, pushy people, unclean places, etc) and after a bout of exposure to these draining activities, I feel a massive drop in my mood. You know, mood swings? That! And how! So that!

C, I am a little scared that someday I will have to face things. You know, see a loved one go. Say goodbye for the last time. Probably not even say goodbye. Plus the biggest fear. What if I am the one that has to depart? No, I am not scared of death per se. Just that I am scared that I would not achieve what I always thought I was capable of. What I made people around me believe that I was capable of. If I die without fulfilling my destiny, it would be very very unfortunate. So that.

Ok that was about the mood-swing, mind-fuckery-inducing thing that happened. Onto the next thing that I have been thinking about.

TWO

In the last few days, I have had a million signs that I need to get my ass moving and work on #book2! I will talk about those here and the triggers I’ve been having in my head!

a. I am working on this short film that I am convinced that it works. And when I talk about it to people close to me, they come back to me with a retort that I need to consume content before I decide to make it. I mean, why? And because I dont look at things from the experience of other people, how does that mean I cant create my version of things?

I think the answer is, if I had created something that I could show off, that probably would’ve ensured that these questions about my knowledge are not asked! The world we live in gives more importance and

b. I was talking to another friend about another movie. While I said all the reviews are bad, she said, it’s easy to diss and impossible to create. And I was again left speechless. I spoke from the knowledge that the reviews gave me. Not from the lens of a creator! Again, I was reminded that it’s painful to be not a creator, in a world that celebrates creators even if what they create is crap. And yes, I am part of that word.

And I agree with Anton about critics! See this.

Anton Ego on Critics.

c. The visit today made me realise the shortness of life and my repeated attempts and failures. I thus need to move my backside. Pronto.

d. I am now surrounded by a few people that are writing like mad! On a day to day basis. And I owe it to them to write. I thus need to find a way to not disappoint them. So I must write. If not for myself, then for others.

e. Then, this uncalled for, unprompted tweet by another author made me realise that having some piece of work out there enables you to make new connections that you did not even know existed.

So yeah!

These two large things. I had to sort of vomit the thoughts out before I slept. And here it is. Lemme know what you think.

Over and out.