Archive for 2015

Udaan: Flights of fantasy

The long weekend over Christmas brought a much needed respite for me. I've been working very hard and am totally worn out. So I decided that I would spend Christmas relaxing and taking it easy. And being an inveterate TV buff, what better way to do that than to watch some telly. (I use the word telly a little loosely since I watch movies and shows on YouTube also.) 

I surfed through various channels but nothing caught my fancy. Imagine my delight then when I chanced upon an episode of Udaan. For those of you who might not remember, this was a series that was telecast on #Doordarshan between 1989-1991. It tells the story of Kalyani Singh, a woman IPS officer and her trials and tribulations. It was written and directed by Kavita Choudhary (remember Lalithaji of the old Surf ad? "Surf ki kharidari mein hi samajhdari hai"). All thirty episodes are available on YouTube. Although the quality is not good in places. 

As I watched those long forgotten episodes, I recalled how much I  loved this serial and how eagerly I looked forward to each episode. It was telecast at a time when I was growing up, forming my own aspirations and longing to fly towards my own future. I even briefly entertained the idea of joining the civil services, much to my father's delight. Of course that idea came to naught pretty soon. 

Udaan is special for many reasons. It tells the story of a woman struggling against the odds to make her mark in what is generally considered a male domain. The narrative is strong and evocative without being jingoistic. Kalyani is  not the vengeance seeking Rekha of Khoon Bhari Maang (a film that released around the same time that the serial was aired). She is your everyday woman, strong and vulnerable at the same time. Facing challenges just like we did - trying, failing, succeeding - learning about herself a little more along the way - just like we did. 

And of course when love touched her life, what joy it brought us all. Shekhar Kapoor as Harish Menon, the DM of Sitapur is absolutely fantastic-bringing  his own brand of charisma and sexiness to the role. His chemistry with Kalyani worked very well. The sparks fly between them, nuanced by the fact that within the government system he was her superior and hence proprieties had to be strictly maintained. He calls her ‘Ms. Singh’ and does not hesitate to reprimand her when she makes a mistake. At the same time, he seeks out her company and leaves the viewer in no doubt of his interest in her. And when he asks her to marry him, of course there was nothing else to do but melt into a puddle and beg her to just say yes! 

They don’t make serials like these anymore. The tsunami of crap that Ekta Kapoor has unleashed on the Hindi serial viewing audience is outrageous. Kalyani has been ousted by the Tulsis and Parvatis of large joint families. And Harish Menon has been toppled by the Mr. Walias and Mr. Bajajs of recent times. There are no women IPS officers anymore. Just housewives scheming against one another. And IAS is no longer a good career choice for leading men, who prefer to go by the grand title of business tycoon. 

Perhaps it is just as well because then one would not get the chance to delight in watching these serials of yore and wallow in the nostalgia of how much happiness they gave us. 

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Random Acts of Kindness

Its been over  three years since I posted anything on my blog. But this seemed to be a fitting way to return to blogging. Perhaps the bright lights of Diwali had something to do with it.

Last week my mother was admitted in hospital due to low electrolyte levels. Doctors put her in the acute care unit for observation. My father called and asked me to come over to Hyderabad to help him.  He tried to sound calm and collected. But I knew that he was finding it stressful to handle things all by himself in Hyderabad.

I wanted to fly to him immediately. But he asked me to come the next day. I arrived home the next afternoon and by early evening, my father and I went to the hospital. Although visiting hours were from 5pm to 7pm, it was not applicable for the ACU. There visitors were permitted - one at a time - to see their loved ones only for an hour in the morning.

A fierce looking security guard barricaded the entrance to the ACU while anxious family members surrounded her with requests to be permitted to see their loved ones. She sternly refused every single one of them.

With a lot of trepidation I approached her and asked if I could be allowed to see my mother. She gave me a stare then asked my mother's name.

"Wait here. I'll ask if they will let you in" she snapped.

My father and I paced the floor outside the ACU for the next ten minutes while she continued swatting away  relatives much as she would have done flies.

A while later, she beckoned me "Block B, Bed No. 3. You can stay only for five minutes.Since you haven't seen your mother at all, I requested the duty doctor to permit you to meet her" was all she said.

"Thank you!" I said, very moved.

She need not have done that. Her job was only to see that relatives did not heckle the medical staff with their anxiety. And dealing with this, all day, everyday, can make a person snappy and irritable.

Yet, amidst all that, she noted the people who came to the ACU, as people with individual stories. And also had the humanity to see that exceptions could be made once in a while.

May her tribe increase!

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