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3. train

Discovering city (Day 1280)

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To discover a new city you have to experience the public transport. I did not travel by the train or by the bus on my last trip to Berlin but this time I wanted to experience the journey. We boarded the train from a station close to our home.  A small walk, a small bridge and we were on a deserted station. The train arrived empty as per schedule and as I found a window seat to watch the city go by I wondered where the people of Berlin were hiding.

Within ten minutes we had arrived at our destination and I was happy to discover a few passengers on the train and a few more at the station.  As I climbed the over the bridge to make it to the city I thought of Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hain where Preity Zinta is deserted on the station harassed by a vagabond until Farhan arrives in time to save her from the scare. I asked my companion if such incidents are common in Berlin and he clarifies that as such there are no beggars in the city “And if in case they are found the police is alerted and they are taken away at once”.



2. a. mall 1

Malls are identical

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In the good old days for most Indians traveling abroad meant spending all your time in the malls. The hostess dropped her guests at a mall before she went to work and when she met them up during her lunch break we dumped the shopping bags into her car.

Post lunch usually made up of fast food, the hostess went back to her office and we, back to serious shopping. The adventure lasted till the hostess was ready to pick us again and we drove for a special sit down dinner, which was incidentally the only time we chatted and bonded.

2.b. mall 2Back home and back to our rooms, we reopened our shopping bags and evaluated our expedition. We counted our notes – dollars/ pounds/ euros and made a note to slow down the following day. We didn’t that time but we have now. Shopping is no more an attraction because all malls are identical and one gets almost the same things everywhere.

Before I leave the mall I make sure to take a picture against the festival backdrop. I have attended so many international film festivals over the decades, this time I am not in a mood for cinema.


1. berlin

Hello Berlin (Day 1279)

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The last time I visited Berlin was in 1987. I was in London for work and decided to take a halt for a few days. My brother-in-law is settled in Germany since 1969 and is well acquainted with the history of the nation.  In the forthcoming days he gave me a tour of the city and explained the significance of the wall in the lives of the Germans.


We carried a camera with us on that day but did not take many pictures because it was difficult requesting a stranger to click a picture for us because very few spoke English in those days. Visiting the city after almost 37 years I discover that English has become a second language and strangers are far more cooperative in   clicking pictures for you.




Constitution for all (Day 1278)

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Is it possible to frame a constitution that will be fair to all, how can we accomplish that? I believe that the only way we can accomplish it is by being personally responsible. As a woman and as a journalist I have led a secure life and feel fortunate about it.

The world is changing every day and to make our present and our future secure everyone, the media, the government, the police, the law enforcement agencies will have to be sensitized to the victim. We have to all jointly ensure that horrific crimes against women are penalized.

In my opinion cinema in present times has become a major influencer be it Toilet Ek Prem Kath talking about hygiene or Pad Man about menstrual hygiene.



Eliminating Discrimination (Day 1277)

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Discrimination is personal and unless you have faced discrimination you will never exercise it on others. Eminent speakers like Justice Darius Khambata, Sudheen Kulkarni, Divya Alexander, Harish Iyer discussed discrimination against women, media, disabled and most important, against LBGT community. Moderated by Harish M Jagtiani the sparkling discussion was a prelude to the 19th Moot Court Competition 2018.

15.02.18It was a long evening but the audience was patient and the questions kept pouring in so one had to wait and answer all the queries.




Embracing Diversity (Day 1276)

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D M Harish Memorial Government College has for years celebrated Moot Court which is very popular and actively supported by leading law firms. Prior to the Moot Court, they host a panel discussion at Mumbai University’s Convocation Hall and I was privileged to be a part of that discussion this year.

The event started on time with lamp lighting and all the panelists took the position on stage. I was happy to be seated amidst my fellow journalist Siddharth Bhatia and young politician Milind Deora. The moderator began by asking all the panelists what was their definition of Diversity and it was interesting how all the speakers perceived the topic and connected it to personal anecdotes. The GLC students guarded the floor and the audience comprised distinguished lawyers.




Decades in cinema (Day 1275)

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So many years later it was interesting to be invited by another group of young girls and briefed for something similar to be addressed to a group of brand heads in Mumbai. I had to speak on Hindi cinema once again and the audience comprised of mainly foreigners. I was surprised at how interested they were in knowing about our icons and listened to me attentively as I traveled

from Silent to Talkies, Black &White to color, neo-realistic to multi-starrers and middle of the road cinema to cinema of age.

Fashion and beauty changed in every decade, while some things changed drastically every few years, many things remained the same. So what is beauty really? Is it conventional, traditional, or modern?  Does it change like fashion or is it all about perception? I feel beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and for me and for cinema beauty has always been more than physical.



Beauty in cinema (Day 1274)

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In 2005 Hindustan Unilever Ltd had invited me to Umaid Bhawan, Udaipur to make a presentation on Beauty & Skin in Cinema over the years. The presentation must have gone very well because this year I was invited to their plus office to make a similar presentation.

It is interesting how all of us have selective memories of our experiences and what I remember of my Udaipur trip is interacting with very bright HUL girls and all of us sharing wine and dinner at Umed Bhawan.

The following day was all work and no play for everybody as the girls got down to preparing for their innumerable sessions while I sat in my room and brushed up on my presentation. Hindi Cinema is a fascinating subject and when I went down memory lane I could not help but feel passionately about every decade.



Movie Review: Pad Man is revolutionary

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Film: Pad Man

Date: 09 February 2018

Writer/Director: R Balki

Producer: Funny Bones Production

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Radhika Apte

Gayatri/ Radhika Apte is on the giant wheel with her husband when she senses something amiss…

In another city, Rhea/ Sonam Kapoor is in the middle of a concert when she suddenly turns pale…

For both, it is that time of the month and as always it has come unannounced.

Pad Man is the story of Gayatri, Rhea and millions of women but primarily the story of Lakshmikant/ Akshay Kumar who lives in a remote town with his aging mother, wife and two sisters.

It is the family tradition that a menstruating woman must stay 5 days in isolation. Lakshmikant disapproves of this. He wants to safeguard his wife and sisters from infection and taboo but he is scoffed at and shunted by everybody.

In my opinion, there are 4 major reasons for watching the film:

  1. Path-breaking subject: Subjects like these are usually featured as documentary or as adv films. Producer Twinkle Khanna pitches Tamil Nadu’s social activist Arunachalam Murgunanthanm as a mainstream hero and makes Pad Man world’s first feature film on menstrual hygiene.
  2. Spreading awareness: For centuries we’ve cloaked the topic in intrigue and superstitions, for the first time comes a film that liberates a woman from age-old conventions. Pad Man spreads awareness in villages and small towns, enlightens men, empowers women, educates children, engages professionals as in doctors/manufacturers in a techno- digital new India.
  1. Raises issues: Yes, it is the story of a woman’s biology but the one fighting for her dignity is a man. Lakshmikant Chauhan challenges his family, neighborhood, society/ religion/ tradition, willing to be ostracized but unwilling to give up on his goal.
  1. Performances: As Gayatri, Radhika Apte and as Rhea, Sonam Kapoor are effective foils to a courageous protagonist Akshay Kumar who absorbs Lakshmikant without the slightest inhibition and breaks the audience’s defenses as well.

R Balki’s Pad man is sensitive, emotional, engaging, responsible, courageous and entertaining. It is a film you can watch with your entire family.

I rate Pad Man with 4 stars.


Pad Man was envisioned to an be awareness film without focusing on commercial aspects. The producers’ main agenda was to reach out to a wide audience to create awareness and eradicate prevalent superstitions in India surrounding sanitary pads.

kg far 2

Khan saab & I Part iii (Day 1272)

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As we are chatting more people walk in and join the session, they appear interested in music because when Khan saab to explain a point breaks into an alaap there is a smile on everyone’s face. He says he started learning when he was only four or five years old and was put on the stage for his first solo performance when he was only 12 years old. His father Ustaad Haafiz Ali Khan was also his guru and he learnt to submit to his father and guru as a little child.


“Many times parents of young musicians ask me if their children will make a name for themselves, now this is an impossible question to answer because how can one determine who fortune will favour. Today, the musicians are after success whilst all we hankered for was approval from our gurus. Their ‘Shabash’ was our award. Today, the guru shishya parampara is not what it used to be.  They want to ape the gurus and expect instant success but that’s not how it happens.


“I say this at all my seminars that classical music is not for the greedy and the impatient. You need years of practice and dedication to become a credible musician and there is no guarantee that no matter how good you are, you will be successful”.


To be continued