Mukti Bhavan – In Search of Salvation

Mukti Bhavan and Masaan – now make companion pieces of sorts – Varanasi and the River Ganga playing a major role in both movies.

Mukti Bhavan titled Hotel Salvation for international releases is a powerful, poignant and bitter-sweet tale of the patriarch of a middle-class family and his relationship with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in his quest for salvation.

In Varanasi/Benares/Kashi – remains a hotel called Mukti Bhavan where those who seek their final journey find an abode. Our lead character Daya played by Lalit Behl is a 77-year old man who has lived a life, well-spent, he sees a dream that foretells his death and he decides to leave for Varanasi to spend his last days. His son Rajiv played brilliantly by Adil Hussain seems to work in some kind of bank or investment firm and is seen chasing sales targets. Rajiv’s wife Lata played by Gitanjali Kulkarni and daughter Sunitha played by the elegant Palomi Ghosh also add to the perfect portrayal of the slightly upper middle-class family structure. They own a car as well as a Bajaj scooter.

Rajiv manages to secure a fortnight’s leave and accompanies Daya to Varanasi and they check-in to Mukti Bhavan. The caretaker Mishra ji isĀ  played by Anil K. Rastogi who has some brilliant lines – “Death is a process.” “The souls here reside within the body. Once the body dies what purpose does the soul serve here.”

At one juncture, Daya falls sick and everyone feels he will die. An elderly lady at Mukti Bhavan played by Navinidra Behl adds grace and charm to the tale, she quips – ‘I have been waiting all my life here to die.” Daya apologises to his son for scuttling his son’s talents and dreams of being a poet. Some real good father-son scenes and I am sure a lot of us guys will relate to these scenes. Daya survives, Latha and Sunitha also make a surprise visit. The 15 day period comes to an end and the caretaker says – ‘Register in a new name and continue to wait for salvation.’

Daya finds a friend and companion in Vimala, then Vimala dies and Daya narrates a moving obituary that he has written for her. Daya advises Rajiv to return to his regular life.

Do watch this movie to figure out what happens to Daya.

At times, amidst all the drivel and leave your ‘mind at home’ cinema that all the woods bombard us with – small little gems like these arrive and make us fall in love with cinema and real characters. By the time the movie ended, I was quite emotional, been some time since I cried after watching a movie; Mukti Bhavan makes me think a lot. My obsession with death, salvation and redemption continue. There are no answers, neither are there any new questions. Celebrate death, embrace it, that which needs to happen will happen.

Full marks to director – Subhashish Bhutiani for an assured, confident and meaningful debut.



An Ode to a Brother

What do I term this bond?
I have known you for how long?
Four or perhaps five years.
How these years have flown,
The highs the lows,
The dreams the visions,
The books read, movies seen,
Emotional outbursts,
The ever-changing equations,

The pain of seeing,
Those who meant everything,
Turning us into idiots,
Of the highest order,
As everyone found a way,
To go away,
But still we chose to stay,
With that calm and stoic smile.
Of business-ventures,
Of publishing dreams,
Of short-movies and scripts,
Of walks on the beach,
Of photography trips,

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Boarding the crowded bus to CMBT,
That strange pilgrimage of sorts,
That we undertook in Tiruvanamalai,
The ramifications of all that ensued,
Of everything turning topsy-turvy,
Of hope, of faith, of self-confidence,
Of braving floods, storms and winds,
Of short stories that get better and better,
Of a novel, a sublime work of art,
That I think you will never release.

But I really hope,
You would publish it,
Because it is a special book,
I know how much it meant to you,
Of what you wanted to salvage,
Of how much hurt remains,
But still you let go,
Without a complaint,
Without bitterness – a trait,
That I hope someday I will imbibe.

Of the trip to Thirukadaiyyur,
A chance that you gave me,
For I will never,
Ever get that chance,
In my lost paternity,
Of the fantastic rava laaddu,
Of the tender coconut we sipped,
Of the pain that remains in your eyes,
For whatever you say, whatever you do,
I can still see through the eyes!

That evening when I rushed,
To see you all bloody and injured,
Thanking the Good Samaritan,
Whose prompt action saved you,
Of posing for a selfie,
All bloodied an plastered,
In the Government Hospital,
Memories of joy in pain,
Of the relief of seeing you fine.
Of understanding the gaps,
In your confused memory,

Of sharing pictures,
To fill those gaps,
Of music, cinema,
Good food and Jo Nesbo,
Of waiting for that notification,
To read your latest post.
There’s a lot that remains,
I really hope,
This year turns special,
As you fight your own battles,
Just remember, I am just a message away!

I really hope,
Your next novel,
Releases soon,
Is a blockbuster,
That shuts all those wagging tongues,
That mocked you,
With such hatred and ease.
And that short film that forever is in our minds,
Let us shoot that too!

Here’s to many more years, of brotherhood, good health and joy!3756d-100_1393

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BP – An Ode to a Brother!

Silhouette Photo Courtesy – Vinod Velayudhan

Jottings – 20/01/2017

Who am I?

Am I the son of my parents?

The brother of my sister?

A friend of those who treat me as their friend?

Who am I?

What is this intense pain?

That starts mushrooming,

Throbbing at my temples?

Why are the visions?

Of another life,

Returning to taunt me,

Haunt me again and again?

How long do I run?

Till which point do I run?

Where is my chance at redemption?

Will I ever find answers?

To the doubts that plague me?

I have not been able to be a good son!

I have failed my siblings!

I have never understood,

What my friends saw in me;

I have never been able,

To live up to their expectations.

Never have I been able to celebrate,

Their special moments,

As I sink further and further,

Into an abyss without an end,

Darkness creeps around me,

I embrace it like a welcome rug,

That comforts me!

But then I awaken,

From this endless dream.

I return to the mortal existence,

Of chasing mediocrity.

Life goes on,

And as I fail,

Yet again to dazzle,

You with my brilliance,

I continue to baffle,

You with bull.

No redemption…


Rains, tears, times, friendships lost!

How a year changes things?
Friends no longer friends,
Blocked, banned, ignored,
Wiped, scorned and deleted.
It pains me to no end,

Why? Why? Why would I,
Invest so much in a friendship,
Emotions, love, respect, time.
And why is it that people,
Can get so easily influenced,
And judge me with such remarkable ease!

We all pay for our sins,
I fully agree to the theory,
But where is that I went wrong?
At least give me a clear answer,
Tell me why my friendship,
Is no longer of consequence,
In any way to you!

Don’t I even owe the courtesy,
Of at least knowing,
What is it that I said,
Or I did, sparked of anger,
Such intense and heated,
That I do not even,
Merit worthiness of a reply,
From you!! I have no answers.

I continue to be losing people,
One after the other,
The ones that I have trusted,
The most – have always,
Managed to let me down,
The most, without fail.
I look at myself,
And wonder, with so many losses,
Well – It is I who am to blame.

Yes, that is the only answer.
Clear as sunshine,
I am the one who is flawed,
I do not deserve,
Your friendship,
Or of others, who worship you.
For I am a negative influence,
Who preys on unsuspecting minds.
So it is best for me to just shut up.
And smile, and pretend that – “All is Well”.


Thoughts on Mother’s Day

My timeline on Facebook is flooded with sentimental posts, pictures and quotes all celebrating motherhood. How does one define one’s relationship with one’s biological mother, or the mother who adopts us, or teachers who become mothers and guide us? It is very difficult to define this bond.

When a lady bears you in her womb, goes through hell to deliver you bearing a whole lot of pain; a part of her dies to bring you into this world. That umbilical cord that binds you to your mother is a special bond! In times gone by when adventures on the high seas and travelling by ship was the only way to discover new lands, umbilical cords were coveted among sailors as a lucky charm to keep them safe. Sailors believed that the cord would keep them safe, the cord was fashioned into a charm or amulet and worn by sailors!

There are some close people whom I know who share an angry relationship with their respective mothers, it is out of distrust and misunderstandings that snowballed into a rift boosted by the egos of the parties involved! I have had the task of setting alight the funeral pyres of distant cousins and family friends as the son/daughter in question was stuck abroad and could not make it to India in time for the last rites. I have had people breaking down to me over Skype and on the phone; cursing the very moment they chose to go abroad! I had a friend who said, “Mahesh amma oda pavizha-kallu padicha mookuthi irukkum da, adha mattum yaenakki anuppi vei da! I want it to keep reminding me that I let her down!” Incidents like these are many! There was the best friend of a time gone by who completely ended up a “penn-koandhan” toeing every line his wife said and ditched his mother in an old-age home; she died broken-hearted! The idiot just came and completed the last rites; when he lit her pyre that’s when he broke down completely! “Matchaan, thappu panitaen da, paeriya thappu panitaen, Meena pinnadi sithi ipidi vitutatenae yaen Amma va! Paava manippaey illai da yaenakku!”

It becomes a worry for me if my mother fails to answer the phone! Morning once I reach office, I call and confirm she is fine, evening once I step out of office I call her again. There have been times when she would be in a drug-induced sleep and would not answer the call, I would worry a hundred different things and keep calling every ten minutes till she would reply.

I have let go of many opportunities for her. There have been numerous wedding proposals that have come through! Without batting an eye-lid the girl’s parents would ask – “Amma va vittu thanni kuduthanam varanam thambi!” I would say – “Nadakaratha sollungo, ponnu ku vaera maapalai a paarungo saar!” Friendships that could have blossomed into something more concrete and and an actual love story; got cut short! Opportunities to go abroad have been sacrificed!

When an entire clan stood against us, asking us to give one more chance at redemption (after umpteen earlier chances), I firmly put my foot down and was in a way black-listed by a whole group of “well-meaning relatives”. We battle, every day, within and without, illnesses, medicines, food, cooking, choice of fruits to be offered to the Lord for prayers!

We battle every day with each other and others.. life goes on!

One wonders if it was all worth it??

All I want to tell you readers out there is – “Some battles are worth it and some battles are not worth it!” Don’t end up doing something that you will regret all your life. One day you will have to set your closest ones free! So cherish this moment with them!

Tomorrow may not come….



I am writing about #MyRoleModel as a part of the activity by Gillette India in association with

This contest started initially as a post on someone who inspired you the most and then transformed into a post on why you love your Dad to celebrate Father’s Day. I am going back to the initial set-up on writing a post on the person who inspired me the most. Well in my case it has been my mother.

I am a product of a broken family; a child who had to go through the trauma of seeing a family break into pieces. My mother supported me with all she could do, cooking meals, preparing savories and snacks and I would dutifully carry them to houses and sell them. There have been days when I have stood in local grounds where children would play football and cricket and I would hawk snacks. Never once have I felt bitter about the fact that I had a very traumatic period between the ages of 15 and 20.

Till I was 14, I grew in the care of my maternal uncles and they helped me and my mother to the best of their abilities. There was an attempt at a reconciliation and mother and I embarked on a long trip one April afternoon from Howrah station and I prepared to meet the man whose DNA I have inherited.

As the initial euphoria ended, I realized that I could never ever trust my father and it was just my mother for whom I should live. It was a struggle to prove the many detractors that existed in the guise of relatives near and far that – yes a teen and his mother could fend for themselves.

Bit-by-bit we worked hard, very hard to ensure that food was available, school and college fees was paid on time, societal pretenses in the name of festivals and celebrations continued and anyone who chose to visit our humble abode never left hungry!

The years have moved, once I secured a job through the dint of my academic rigour my mother has finally found some peace; but the years of struggle and hard work have rendered her susceptible to illnesses. She battles multiple diseases and the two of us still exist, seeing each day as it dawns with a fresh perspective.

For me my mother will remain as the single solid rock of support who continues to guide me!

This is dedicated to every single child and mother who share a bond that goes beyond words and the manic advertising tactics of multi-national companies to keep buying insanely priced gifts. Go hug your mother, speak kindly to her, humour her and let her watch the TV serial even when a cricket match plays on another channel!

A mother is the greatest gift that the Lord has given mankind!